1. Original Entry + Comments2. Write a Comment3. Preview Comment
New comments for this entry are disabled.

August 18, 2009  |  Kinger. No, Kingite. No, Kingean.  |  2268 hit(s)

In Facebook, one of my Friends noted that as a resident of Snohomish County[1] here in Western Washington, she's now a Snohomian. This is one county up from where Seattle is, which is King County. Which in turn led to the question, what do you call a resident of King County?[2]

English has a variety of ways to form a word that means "resident of," which the infallible Wikipedia lists as a demonym:

-ite: Seattleite, Manhattanite
-er: New Yorker, Dubliners
-an: Baltemorean, San Franciscan, Glaswegian
other: (Los) Angeleno (borrowed from Spanish, obviously)

I haven't investigated, but I suspect that any systematic set of rules for how to create a demonym is going to be complex at best and full of exceptions. Yet there must be rules, because it is possible to get it wrong. We're not Seattlers, for example, we just aren't.

So, here's your challenge: what do you call a resident of King County? The problem is that none of the normal rules result in a particularly satisfying name. What can we do about that?

[1] The -mish suffix is much used for placenames around here (Duwamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Suquamish): "In the native Lushootseed language, the aboriginal inhabitants of the White River Valley were known as the Stkamish, the Smulkamish, and the Skopamish. (The common anglicization of the "amsh" suffix, which means "people of," resulted in many local tribes with the "mish" suffix, such as the Duwamish and Suquamish.)" [#]

[2] King County was originally named for William Rufus Devane King in 1852, who was an extremely short-lived VP under Pierce. In 1999, the county redesignated itself to have been named after Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jenny   18 Aug 09 - 1:41 PM

Well, just as sticking with the rules produces unsatisfying results, I'm not sure playing with the rules (or even disregarding them) will produce anything better.


I have enough trouble figuring out what my friends living in Issaquah would be called. Issaquoians? What if they lived in Bellevue? Bellevivians?

Of course, living in Florida, where no one is native and very few admit to being residents, this sort of question just doesn't come up. Still, it's fun to think about.

Kent Sharkey   18 Aug 09 - 3:41 PM

I'd go with "Kingian" myself (as in Bostonian), maybe "Kinger", or perhaps just "King" (as that's how the other counties seem to view the residents of King County).

My all-time favourite of these is of course what the residents of Halifax are properly called: Haligonians.

Fritinancy   18 Aug 09 - 5:36 PM

Kingon, obviously.

ar-kay-tee   18 Aug 09 - 9:41 PM

Wow, here I was thinking that there was likely some straight forward answer and that I was just too lazy to look it up. Personally, I like Kingster a lot. Has sort of a hipster vibe to it. Kingling is a close second, just because it's fun to say :)

John Sutherland   19 Aug 09 - 4:12 PM

Let's just call ourselves Kings and Queens, shall we?

This reminds me of an episode of "Taxi" in the 80s, when the glue-sniffing guy came into a bunch of money and blew it all of TVs with every conceivable channel. He spent most of his time on the 24-hour Delaware Legislature Channel, where he took in the debate between calling residents "Delawareans" or "Delawareites." He stuck with the small but fanatical minority who were pulling for "Delawareinis."

And since I was living in Delaware at the time, I found this particularly amusing.

mike   20 Aug 09 - 9:19 PM

Dang, you guys are good. Kingons made me, as the kids say, lol. So obvious in hindsight. (That's basically the story of your job, right, Nancy? :-) ) And Jenny, I must say that I love the sound of Kinglopolitans. Sounds so high-falutin', just like -- haha! -- us Kingons.

Brian MacDonald   21 Aug 09 - 6:06 AM

I see I'm not the only one who immediately thought of that episode of Taxi.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but I think in a lot of cases, having a demonym isn't particularly important. Now that I think about it, of all the towns and counties I've lived in...Glenside, Downingtown, State College, San Mateo...the only demonym I've ever had applied to me is "Philadelphian." Although "State Collegian" has a certain ring to it, the "townies" tried very hard to differentiate themselves from the students, so that probably wouldn't go over well.