Who are we?
When writing the headline for Naj Wikoff’s column this week, our editor was faced with writing a shortened title for “Keene residents.” Based on what residents are called in the communities of Keene, New Hampshire and Keene, Texas, we settled on “Keenites.”
But is that right? Could it be Keener? Keenian? Keenonian? Keenese?
Keene Valley columnist Martha Allen asked some of her friends and didn’t find any definitive answers. One person said “townies,” but that could be any town. In an email, Allen wrote:
“I think you might as well go with ‘Keenites.’ It sounds good, it’s clear what you mean, and it works for Texas and New Hampshire! When we talked, we wondered who made up the accepted names in the first place. Maybe a newspaper editor. You could be the initiator of ‘Keenite’ for New York!”
A noun used to denote the inhabitants of a specific community, region, state or country actually has a name. It’s called a demonym. Some in this region are familiar and widely used.
Residents of the Adirondack Park are called Adirondackers. New York residents are New Yorkers. Saranac Lakers and Tupper Lakers denote the residents of those villages. Lake Placidian — or simply Placidian — for Lake Placid resident is widely accepted.
But what about other local communities, such as Keene Valley, Jay, Upper Jay, AuSable Forks?
What about Wilmington? Town of Wilmington Supervisor Roy Holzer didn’t have an answer. Maybe it’s Wilmingtonian? In North Carolina, Wilmington residents are called Wilmingtonians.
“We call ourselves ‘lucky,'” Holzer said after thinking about it. “And that’s my final answer.”
Other demonyms for communities in New York state include: Albanian, Bronxite, Brooklynite, Manhattanite, Queensite, Staten Islander, Long Islander, Buffalonian, Rochesterian, Binghamtonian, Syracusan, Utican, Watertownian, Poughkeepsian, Newburgher and Trojan (Troy).