State Natives

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

I find the site great, but I couldn't find what I was looking for, and maybe you guys could help with that. I'm trying to collect the adjectives for the people from all the states, that is, what am I if I come from Utah? A Utahian?

The Answer:

By far the most usual pattern for deriving the adjective (and noun) form from a state name is to add the suffix -an, which means "of or relating to" or "one who is of or relating to" a particular place. Thus something or someone of Alaska is Alaskan and something or someone of Virginia is Virginian. Note the final "a" of the state name is dropped before the suffix is added to avoid duplication of "a."

Sometimes -ian is added instead of -an, which gives us North Carolinian, South Carolinian, Oregonian, and Washingtonian. A few states, in addition to taking the -an ending, also take the -ian ending. This gives us equivalent variants such as Alabaman or Alabamian, Floridan or Floridian, Indianan or Indianian, Louisianan or Louisianian, Nevadan or Nevadian. Although adding -an doesn't usually mean a sound change to the root word, adding -ian sometimes does necessitate a pronunciation change: we say FLOR-i-duh but flo-RID-ee-un, WASH-ing-tun but wash-ing-TOE-nee-un.

For most state names ending in a consonant (Kansas and Texas are the exceptions), the suffixes -er or -ite are used to form the adjective and noun forms: Mainer, Marylander, New Yorker, Rhode Islander, Vermonter; New Hampshirite, New Jerseyite, Wisconsinite.

Finally, there are two state names that cannot be combined with a suffix, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Perhaps these two just have too many syllables already? We are left with no choice but to refer to people from these states as "people from ___."

The information was derived from the American Heritage Dictionary and Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

For related information visit our U.S. States channel at

-The Editors

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