Not so in the rest of the world it seemed. Indiana University's basketball team is famously named the Hoosiers. In Indiana that is a term of pride though I'm not sure many of them could tell you what it meant. I contend that in most of the U.S. if you asked a person what a Hoosier was they would cite IU's nicknamed teams. And it wouldn't likely be a negative. Even today in Chicago you don't hear it as much. So many people are moving to Indiana for the considerably lower taxes and new housing that just about everyone is related to or friends with a "Hoosier".
In St Louis it's means something completely different though. Here, if you are referred to as a hoosier, it's a definite cutdown. It's similar to someone calling you white-trash or a redneck and that's all it means. It doesn't matter what state you are from at all. And just about everyone uses it.
I had first heard it years ago when visiting St Louis but thought they were referring to people the same way we did in Chicago. But when I moved here I began to hear it all the time and definitely picked up on the more negative tone. I also, at first, thought they were referring to me with my Indiana license plates. It drove me crazy. There was no way that bartender knew I'm from Indiana... Ha!
One day I was having a discussion with a friend who often joked with me about living in Indiana and I mentioned the different hoosier meanings. She decided to Google it and lo and behold, there was a full article describing the usage of the word hoosier. They even specifically mention the small pocket of the country where it is used mostly in a negative way. Yep, I'm looking at you St louis:
While "hoosier" may still be heard in areas of the south in its original, disparaging meaning of "uncouth rustic," the term seems to be slowly loosing currency. One important pocket of linguistic resistance, however, remains. Thomas E. Murray carefully analysed the use of "hoosier" in St. Louis, Missouri, where it is the favorite epithet of abuse. "When asked what a Hoosier is," Murray writes, "St. Louisans readily list a number of defining characteristics, among which are 'lazy,' 'slow-moving,' 'derelict,' and 'irresponsible.'" He continues, "Few epithets in St. Louis carry the pejorative connotations or the potential for eliciting negative responses that hoosier does." He conducted tests and interviews across lines of age and race and tabulated the results. He found the term ecuminically applied.How's that for some research? The full article can be found here for those interested.
Just one of the many strange and wonderful things about St Louis. It really is one cool, unique city. I'm not sure the residents here know what they have. To be discussed in the future.