If you’ve ever tried to describe someone from Minneapolis, you’ve probably ran into a common problem.
Uhh… just how exactly, are you supposed to do it?
Minne…. apolisonian? Minne… apolisite?
It gets confusing in a hurry.
Luckily, we have the proper answer. And it’s just as interesting as the city we call home.
What do you call a person from Minneapolis? (The Correct Demonym)
The correct name for people who live in Minneapolis is Minneapolitan.
This is known as the “local demonym” which is a term from anthroponymy. (The field that studies the proper names of human beings.)
Like many demonyms, Minneapolitan is also the adjectival form of the city of Minneapolis. For example, to describe a Minneapolis attraction, the correct term would be a Minneapolitan attraction.
Then again, we like this classic forum answer, too…
More info on local demonyms
Without turning this into a presentation from a grammer nazi or a boring anthropological college lecture, demonyms are an interesting quirk of linguistics.
They’re used to describe a group of people from a particular place. It’s worth noting that demonyms always describe the general population, rather than digging into the details of ethnic background, religious affiliation, or other cultural differences.
In that way, demonyms are very noble. We’re all one shared group of Minneapolis-based people, according to the collective field of demonyms!
Some other pro tips on demonyms:
- Demonyms are always capitalized. “Minneapolitans” is correct, while “minneapolitans” will make your English teacher squirm.
- National demonyms are most common in the English language. You probably recognize terms like Chinese, Canadian, Mexican, etc.
- While local demonyms are much more rare. The infrequent use of local demonyms like “Chicagoan” are probably why we had to write an entire article explaining “Minneapolitan.”
- Some small towns and cities don’t have any sort of demonym at all.
What about adjectival form of cities?
Well there’s another boring headline that’s sure to make half the class fall asleep.
But in truth, this is just a fancy English term used to describe the instances where cities are used as adjectives. (A word that describes a noun.)
- How do you describe a restaurant in Minneapolis? A Minneapolitan restaurant.
If you’re thinking this sounds really similar to the description of demonyms above, you’re onto something. In fact, in practice, most places share the same adjective form and demonym name. Just check out this huge list of adjectival and demonym names for cities from Wikipedia.
The Suffixation of Minneapolis
No matter how much that word looks like suffocation, we’re not talking about strangling the city. Suffixation is the practice of adding a suffix (those common clusters of letters) to the end of a word.
Suffixation is the most common way we create descriptions of places in the English language. And when you get down to it, that’s really what the whole debate in this question is all about.
Just consider these most common suffixations of places, and how much of a mess they’d look when applied to Minneapolis:
- -an: Minneapolisan
- -ian: Minneapolisian
- -anian: Minneapolisanian (dizzy yet?)
- -nian: Minneapolisnian
- –ine: Minneapolisine (sounds like some sort of name for a pharmaceutical drug!)
- -ite: Minneapolisite (a rock formation?)
- -er: Minneapoliser
- -ish: Minneapolish
- -ien: Minneapolisien
- -ene: Minneapolisene (what the heck is that?)
- -enesian: Minneapolisenesian (my goodness…)
- -ard: Minnneapolisard
- -ese: Minneapolese
- –ie: Minneapolisie
- -ic: Minneapolisic
- -iot: Minneapolisiot
- -k: Minneapolisk (STRONG no…)
- –asque: Minneapolisasque
- –wegian: Minneapoliswegian
- -onian: Minneapolisonian (Maybe the only contender so far…)
- -vian: Minnapolisvian
- –oise: Minneapolisoise
Clearly, our options are somewhat limited. Which is why us Minneapolitans kind of stumble into our term, mostly by process of elimination of all the others.
Wait, is -itan even a common suffixation???
Good catch! The technique used to transform Minneapolis into Minneapolitan is actually one of the rarest suffixations around.
This is technically the “latinization” of a word, and the only other time it’s commonly used in the english language is to describe someone from Venice – a Venetian.
Conclusion, does the term Minneapolitan pass the test for people who live there?
Maybe the biggest test for a local description is whether or not the locals even use it.
And on that front, Minneapolitan gets a mixed review. It passes the initial sniff test from a local, because you definitely see it being used around here more than its closest contenders, which I’d argue would be Minneapolisite or Minneapolisonian.
That said, even though Minneapolitan is technically the correct term, only rarely do you actually hear anyone use the phrase in the Twin Cities. Much more common seems to be the term “Minneapolis local” or “Minneapolis man/woman” or even “Twin Cities resident.”
But when you get down to it, isn’t the confusion kind of fitting? Leave it to a city as unique as Minneapolis to blaze its own path, wherever that is.