I was writing a post when I found myself starting to type in the tepid phrase “Dumbo residents.” Then I started to type “Dumboites” and I shuddered. It’s such an ugly word.
The combination of the long O in Dumbo and the long I in -ite is just awkward. (And, as one commenter on DumboNYC once noticed, it sounds a bit like “Dumbo whites.”)
A demonym is a word used to refer to a resident of a certain place, and it seems as if Dumboite (or DUMBOite) has become the default standard demonym for our corner of Brooklyn. (On his site, Barry Popik helpfully catalogs uses of Dumboite on various websites.) After all, residents of Brooklyn are called Brooklynites. But then, you wouldn’t refer to Park Slopites, Willamsburgites, or Brooklyn Heights-ites. (Though the latter would be kind of funny, admittedly.)
Why not Dumbonian?
If you look at the Wikipedia page for demonym, you’ll see that -ite is more often used after a place name ending in a consonant sound. Manhattanite. Vancouverite. Israelite. Some place names that end in vowels either drop the vowels or go with a different version of the place name, like Odessite (for Odessa) and Muscovite (for Moscow). There are a few examples of place names ending in vowels taking -ite, but they’re just as clunky as Dumboite, like Dubaiite and Tokyoite.
The suffix -nian, on the other hand, seems to be a favorite for place names ending in a vowel. Torontonian. Buffalonian. Panamanian.
- Dumbro (for a dude)
I’ve made my decision. I’m Team Dumbonian. How about you? Should we make up T-shirts?