Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia


‘‘Hoopie’’ is a derogatory but usually good natured name given to rural West Virginians (and sometimes Ohioans) who came north to work in the potteries of Chester and Newell, West Virginia, or East Liverpool, Ohio. The term is derived from the belief that many of these migrants or their ancestors had found employment making hoops in the cooper shops that supplied the potteries with barrels for packing chinaware. Today, it may refer to anyone from West Virginia and is used in a similar manner to ‘‘hillbilly’’ or ‘‘redneck.’’ As with those names, hoopie is now sometimes appropriated by members of the target group, who refer to themselves as hoopies.

‘‘Hoopie’’ may also mean an area of West Virginia. For example, northern West Virginians may speak of going to ‘‘Hoopie,’’ anywhere south of the Northern Panhandle, to visit relatives. The word ‘‘hoopie’’ seems to be largely limited to the upper Ohio Valley and the surrounding region. Jokes abound, including the often-told one that contends that many Hoopies got off the boat in Newell because they thought the H.L.C. on the stacks of Homer Laughlin China Company stood for ‘‘Hoopies’ Last Chance.’’

Written by Susan M. Weaver