Surely you’ve heard of Omahans and Lincolnites. But what do you call someone from Broken Bow?
Broken Bowers? Broken Bowhunters? Broken ... um ...
Without a doubt, those from Gothenburg are Gothenburgers. But what are people from Wahoo? Are they Wahooans? Wahooers? Wahoovians? Wahooligans? Ask around and the answer differs by the person.
As it turns out, many of Nebraska’s 50 most populous towns and cities lack a proper name to call themselves — it’s not a legal requirement for cities to establish a demonym, which is a word used to denote a person who lives in or is native to a particular place. Either the residents have too many to choose from or none of the names sounds right. Or nothing ever stuck.
“I’ve never been asked before,” said Erv Portis, city administrator of Plattsmouth. “Frankly I don’t have an answer for it. No matter what you or I choose, somebody is going to be offended. Plattsmouth citizen, Plattsmouth resident, beyond that I don’t know.”
Heck, even Nebraska’s oldest city and its third-largest, Bellevue, can’t make up its mind.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, 57 years, and I don’t know,” said the administrative assistant in the Mayor’s Office.
People from Wayne agree that they like the name “Wayne Americans,” as the water tower proclaims, but even the City of Wayne and Wayne’s chamber of commerce differ between Waynites or Waynians.
Don’t mistake Columbusites for Columbians, even if a few are. Be mindful not to offend a Papillionite by calling him or her a Papillionaire. And don’t you dare call someone from Crete a Cretan.
Across the Missouri River from Omaha, let the record show that those folks are Council Bluffsians, not Council Bluffers or Council Bluffites.
The names Nebraska’s townspeople call themselves are far more fascinating and undecided than one might imagine.
Here’s our unofficial list of the demonyms for the top 50 most populous places in Nebraska, determined using historical records, newspaper clippings and calls to government offices. These names are our best guesses based on research, but if you live in one of these towns and call your townspeople something else, let us know.
1 of 50
1. Omaha (population 446,970): Omahans.
2. Lincoln (population 280,364): Lincolnite, not Lincolner.
3. Bellevue (population 53,505): Not even the Mayor’s Office in Bellevue knows what to call the residents of Nebraska’s third-largest city. Ben Justman, executive director of the Sarpy County Museum, said, “I’m not sure there is a name.” His best guess, based on old newspapers, is “Bellevuite,” but that’s far from common use today.
4. Grand Island (population 51,517): Grand Islander.
5. Kearney (population 33,520): Kearneyite.
6. Fremont (population 26,519): Fremonter. (Reader Keith Baughman suggests "Fremonsters.")
7. Hastings (population 24,991): Hastingsite, though it’s not common. City officials and employees of the Hastings Tribune newspaper said they didn’t know if the city had a popular demonym.
8. Norfolk (population 24,348): Norfolkan, usually, but Norfolker is also common.
9. North Platte (population 24,110): North Platter.
10. Columbus (population 22,851): Columbusite, not “Columbian.”
11. Papillion (population 19,597): It’s officially Papillionite, though some like to say jokingly that the suburban city’s residents should be called “Papillionaires.”
12. La Vista (population 17,143): La Vistan.
13. Scottsbluff (population 14,883): Scottsbluffer.
14. South Sioux City (population 13,120): South Sioux Cityan, officially, but another name for someone from the area stretching from South Sioux City north to Sioux Falls is “Siouxlander.”
15. Beatrice (population 12,362): Beatrician.
16. Lexington (population 10,004): Lexingtonian.
17. Alliance (population 8,403): Alliancite. Not Alliancer.
18. Gering (population 8,360): Geringite.
19. Blair (population 8,089): Blairite.
20. York (population 7,860): Yorkite, or Yorker, but definitely not Yorkie.
21. McCook (population 7,526): McCooker, not “McCookie,” as some like to joke.
22. Nebraska City (population 7,347): Nebraska Citian, spelled with an “i” in “Citian” instead of the “y” for “Cityan” in most Nebraska cities including Sioux City, Falls City, Central City and David City.
23. Ralston (population 7,329): Ralstonite.
24. Seward (population 7,219): Sewardite.
25. Crete (population 7,059): Despite what you may think, it’s not “Cretan.” Instead, city officials said, “We just refer to them as the residents of Crete.”
26. Sidney (population 6,888): Sidneyite.
27. Plattsmouth (population 6,479): Nothing, probably. A 1925 edition of “The Plattsmouth Journal” refers to residents as “Plattonians,” but references are scarce. Even City Administrator Erv Portis was uncertain: “Frankly, I don’t have an answer for it. No matter what you or I choose, somebody is going to be offended. Plattsmouth citizen, Plattsmouth resident, beyond that, I don’t know.”
28. Schuyler (population 6,106): Schuylerite.
29. Chadron (population 5,725): Chadronite.
30. Wayne (population 5,573): City officials say “Waynians” and the chamber of commerce says “Waynites.” Both agree with the words printed on the town’s water tower: “Wayne Americans.”
31. Holdrege (population 5,555): Holdrege Daily Citizen Publisher Bob King said he doesn’t know of an official demonym for the people of Holdrege, but he has elected to use “Holdregeite” in print.
32. Gretna (population 5,060): While there is no formal name for a citizen of Gretna, the most likely candidate based on historical newspaper usage is “Gretnan.”
33. Ogallala (population 4,543): Ogallalan, not Ogallalalan.
34. Wahoo (population 4,499): Wahoovians seems the most popular choice, but Wahooan and Wahooer are popular, too. So is the jokey “Wahooligans.”
35. Aurora (population 4,484): Auroran.
36. Falls City (population 4,214): Falls Cityan.
37. Cozad (population 3,805): Cozadian, the city says, though it’s seldom used.
38. Waverly (populations 3,786): Waverlyite. As strange as it may sound, that’s the official word from the city.
39. Fairbury (population 3,714): Fairburian.
40. O’Neill (population 3,631): O’Neillite.
41. Broken Bow (population 3,539): There is no common name for a resident of Broken Bow. As far as the City of Broken Bow and the chamber of commerce know, their residents are just “the citizens of Broken Bow.”
42. Gothenburg (population 3,475): Named after the much larger city in Sweden, residents of Nebraska’s Gothenburg are called “Gothenburgers.”
43. West Point (population 3,327): West Pointer.
44. Auburn (population 3,299): Auburnite.
45. Minden (population 2,996): Mindenite.
46. Central City (population 2,905): Central Cityan
47. David City (population 2,815): David Cityan
48. Valentine (population 2,803): No common demonym, not even “Valentines.” Call them Sandhillers, ranchers or “the folks from Valentine,” if you wish.
49. Ashland (population 2,566): Ashlander
50. Kimball (population 2,400): Kimballite