Pet Peeve: Midwest

Number 1 in the 2385 part series of things that annoy me. Today’s topic is use (or should I say ‘misuse’) of the word “Midwest”.

I really hate when people use the term “Midwest” to basically mean anything west of New York and east of Los Angeles. (Besides, we all know that the proper term for that is “Flyover Country”) As someone who was born and bred in the actual Midwest, I can’t stand people assigning random states as Midwestern.

Media outlets are the biggest offenders. A great example is found in today’s headlines: Over 200,000 still without power in the Midwest

Opening line of the article: “More than 200,000 homes and businesses remained without power Tuesday after snow and ice storms January 27-28 left almost 1.7 million customers in the dark from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania, local utilities reported.” Other states mentioned in the story: Kentucky and Alabama. What do all of these states have in common? Besides having been affected by a recent winter storm… None of them is in the Midwest!

The Midwest, as defined by the Census Bureau consists of twelve states starting with Ohio in the east, and ending with the Dakotas in the west. Bordered by Canada to the north, the Ohio River to the southeast, and the southern borders of Missouri and Kansas to the south.

The Midwest is *not* Pennsylvania. It is *not* Kentucky. And it sure as hell isn’t Alabama.

A corollary to this pet peeve is the use of Plains States, or Great Plains. The strict definition (well, as strict as Wikipedia is) of Great Plains is far different since there is some geological aspects to it; but in casual use I don’t think anyone would consider Michigan or Ohio “Plains States”.

Another corollary is the use of “Heartland”. Let’s get something straight, Heartland = Midwest. If you are from Kentucky or Tennessee or Arkansas you are *not* from “America’s Heartland”; I hate to be the one to break this to you, but you’re from the South.

That is all.







5 responses to “Pet Peeve: Midwest”

  1. anderswa Avatar

    being a part of the midwest is just so awesome, other states are dying to be included. a-hem.

    this brings up someting i was wondering about recently; shouldn’t the midwest and the middle east be closer to each other than they actually are?

  2. Explosive Bombchelle Avatar

    Somehow I don’t think the media outlets can refer to the area as the flyover states. That might not be very well received.

  3. Nursedude Avatar

    Actually, I have heard media commentators use the very term in referring to the Midwest. It is a huge area, from Ohio in the East, to the Dakotas and Nebraska in the West, to Minnesota/Wisconsin in the North, to Kansas/Missouri in the South, and all of the states in between, it is a whole lot of real estate.

    It’s funny, when I studied in France and met other Americans, and told them I went to college in Iowa, they would constantly mess it up and think it was Ohio or Idaho. People from the left coast would say, “Iowa, isn’t that out by Pennsylvania?” People from the East coast would think that Iowa was somewhere out by Washington or Oregon. (And people wonder why people in the rest of the world think that Americans are dumber than rocks)

  4. monkey Avatar

    According to Wired, Oklahoma is now in the Midwest. Next up: Texas?

    (note: read the first three comments to the gallery – two point out that Oklahoma is not in the Midwest and the other points out that it’s not actually a museum. Nice work, Wired editors.)

  5. Nursedude Avatar

    I’m sorry, Oklahoma is part of the Southwest-don’t get me wrong, I knew a lot of nice Okies when I was in the Air Force, but they are NOT part of the Midwest.

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