Derogatory place nicknames – UPDATE # 2


Source: downwithdetroit.spreadshirt.com

Source: downwithdetroit.spreadshirt.com

Last weekend I unfortunately overheard a derogatory nickname for a city here in Michigan that I had never heard expressed before in my 21 years of being a resident of this state. For some reason people have a tendency to give places that are different from them degrading nicknames.

Now and then these the nicknames are meant to be snarky commentary on the place, as was our use of Indianpolace or Naptown for my hometown of Indianapolis in the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, all too often, the place nicknames are meant to be mean, cruel, demeaning, or bigoted.

Here are a few I have heard over the years or found on the internet. I apologize in advance for those that are most definitely offensive – I am only listing them for reference purposes in this post. It would be interesting to learn of other examples from across the country or around the world. My guess is this issue is not just limited to the United States.

Source: funnyphilly.wordpress.com

Source: funnyphilly.wordpress.com

  • Baltimore, Maryland – Bodymore, Murderland (Thank you, Martin S.)
  • Benton Harbor, Michigan – Benton Harlem
  • Berkeley, California – Bezerkeley
  • Brampton, Ontario – Bramladesh
  • Calgary, Alberta – Cowtown
  • Charleston, West Virginia – Chemicalville
  • Chicago, Illinois – Illville
  • Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – War-ez
  • Cleveland, Ohio – Mistake on the Lake
  • Colonial Heights, Virginia – Colonial Whites (1)
  • Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio – Caucasian Falls (1)
  • Dearborn, Michigan – Dearbornistan
  • Edmonton, Alberta – Deadmonton
  • Edmonton, Alberta – Redmonton
  • Edmonton, Alberta – Edmonchuk
  • Garden Grove, California – Garbage Growin’ (Thank you jwayo1)
  • Hesperia, Michigan – Hesptucky
  • Huntsville, Texas – Death Penalty City
  • Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) – Oooey-Pooey
  • Indianapolis, Indiana – Indianoplace (this was when I was a kid a growing up there – no longer true)
  • Indianapolis, Indiana – Naptown (now used as an affectionate nickname)
  • Inkster, Michigan – Stinkster
  • Johnstown, Pennsylvania – Flood City
  • Joliet, Illinois – Prison City
  • Lafayette, Indiana – Laugh-a-lot
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – Sin City
  • London, UK – Londonistan
  • Nairobi, Kenya – Nairobbery (2)
  • Newark, Ohio – Nerk or Nerk, Ahia
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philthydelphia
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Smoky City
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – The Pitts
  • Pasadena, Texas – Poopadena (Thank you, jway01)
  • Purdue University – P.U. (pee-yew)
  • St. Paul, Minnesota – Pig’s Eye (actually was the city’s first name)
  • San Diego, California – San Deteriorata (Thank you, jway01)
  • San Francisco, California – San Use Crisco (Thank you, jway01)
  • Sterling Heights, Michigan – Sterile Whites
  • Sumpter Township, Michigan – Sumpter the Dumpster (due to the number of landfills there)
  • Tacoma, Washington – Armpit of the West
  • Tacoma, Washington – Tackyoma
  • Taylor, Michigan – Taylortucky
  • Terre Haute, Indiana – Sin City
  • Traverse City, Michigan – Traffic City
  • Washington, DC – District of Corruption
  • West Lafayette, Indiana – West Laugh-a-lot
  • Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin – Whiteface Bay (1)
  • Worthington, Ohio – Worth-a-ton
  • Zanesville, Ohio – Zaneyville

(1)  Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, pg. 193.

(2) Swahili for the Broken-Hearted

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12 Responses to Derogatory place nicknames – UPDATE # 2

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Rick, there was one for Noblesville, Indiana that was “Nobletucky”, derogatorily expressing the fact that Noblesville, when they had several industrial plants and I think a canning factory there at one time was the end point for some rural Kentucky residents leaving the Bluegrass state to look for work. Having relatives in West Virginia, I though this comment was a disparaging remark on an otherwise “nice” small county seat town with a beautiful park on White River (and this was years before Noblesville started being considered an “upscale” location around Indianapolis). The planning director of Noblesville (don’t remember his name; its been “several” years since I’ve heard this remark but he was right) heard that Noblesville used to be called that, but he hadn’t heard it referred that way now “for years”, and this comment was made after Noblesville had acquired its current “upscale” reputation with the rest of Hamilton County. Johnson County to the south was known that way when they had canning plants (Greenwood and Franklin); now its also considered an “upscale” place to move, although not quite as “upscale” as Hamilton County

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  2. Ted D says:

    Unfortunately, we have these on the west side:

    Comstock Park, MI – Cornstalk Park
    Grand Rapids, MI – Bland Rapids, Grand Raggedy

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  3. Ron Melin says:

    My wife a So. Cal girl was stationed in the Twin Cities when she flew for Northwest. She and the other “West Coast” born flight attendants would refer to Minneapolis as Minnhapless or Minnehopless. Although she would be the first to admit that the nicest people in the U.S. lived there.

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  4. There can often be good reasons, some historic, for such derogatory nicknames. I must say, though I grew up in Chicago and live here now, I have NEVER heard the alleged nickname “Illville” before now. Where did it come from? Chicago now seems to be the “murder capital of the U.S.” and with unfortunately good reason. One nickname you forgot was Bakersfield, California: the “Armpit of California.” And with good reason. I learned that when I lived in SoCal.

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    • Rick Brown says:

      The hyperlink to the site where Illville came from is provided in the post – probably just short for Illinoisville. Had not heard the nickname for Bakersfield, but had heard it was not the garden spot of the state.

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  5. Martin S says:

    I’ve heard Bodymore, Murderland (home of the Ravens) was popular not too far back. Some call Annapolis Naptown, too.
    I knew a resident of Newark Ohio who was proud of his NERKAHIA t-shirt. It’s the accent.
    Bezerkeley was also a record label in the ’70s.

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  6. jway01 says:

    Garbage Growin’ (Garden Grove) California
    Poopadena (Pasadena) Texas
    San Deteriorata (San Diego) California
    San Use Crisco (San Francisco) California especially Tenderloin district

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