Hoosier than what?


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To understand this small essay, you need to read Dave Barry's columns, at



Then you can read the explanation below, which I sent to Dave Barry, but never received a reply.

Dear Mr. Barry,

I thought I might clarify one of the questions you raised in your column of 21-Oct-02. You said that nobody knew what “Hoosier” meant. I myself have wondered about this for years, until I realized it is the comparative form of “Hoosy”, as in “He is hoosy, you are hoosier, but I am the hoosiest of all!”. That's assuming that hoosiness is a positive feature.  Or, given we still don’t know what it means, perhaps it is “I may be hoosy, and you are far hoosier, but he is the hoosiest ever!”.

The problem now arises that we don’t know who Indiana is comparing themselves to. Perhaps Florida? Are you going to tolerate a state claiming to be hoosier than Florida, when it might well be true that by now Florida is the hoosiest state in the country? Who ranks hoosiness? Perhaps Morgan Quinto Press should rank states by their hoosiness, and Indiana will get their comeuppance when they realize that there are three states considered even hoosier than they are. Then again, perhaps they’ve already published this ranking. Years ago Indiana chose this state motto after Morgan Quinto Press ranked them very high in hoosiness, but they couldn’t call themselves the “Hoosiest State” because that would be admitting there were other States which ranked higher in the hoosy scale.  Imagine the debates for a state motto:

“I just got a book from Morgan Quinto Press that says we’re the ninth-hoosiest state in the country!”

“That’s great! That means there are 39 more states we’re hoosier than!”

“Sure, let’s adopt that as the state motto…we’re hoosier than the majority of states.”

“Well, it sure beats ‘The state that’s mistaken for a town in Pennsylvania’ as a motto.”

“By the way do you have any idea what ‘hoosy’ means?”

“No, but neither does anybody else, and I think we can pass this before lunch.”

“Good, I hate to think of missing lunch over this issue.”

That’s it. Of course it got shortened a bit because you couldn’t put it on a coin or bill (just in case Indiana should start minting its own coinage or printing its own money, they wanted a pithy motto).