Every venerable city has to have an equally venerable name for its citizens. There are some to be jealous of, and some… not to be so jealous of. Then there are the ones that are simply unique!

‘Loiner’ is one such unique term. Sprouting up from the ancient foundations of the city of Leeds, it’s one of those names that may escape outsiders, but which has a rich – and somewhat debated – history to its name. Theories abound as to the word’s true origins, from a play on the Leeds accent to a reference to Leeds’ first name. No matter which side of the debate you decide to come down on, there is no doubt that being able to debate their collective name puts Loiners in a unique position.

Theory 1 – Stemming from Loidis

In the early eighth century, the Venerable Bede recorded a part of the Leeds area’s history in his Ecclesiastical History, mentioning an altar that escaped a fire due to being made of stone. This casual mention was the first recording of the word Loidis, the original name of Leeds.

The name Loidis, which is thought perhaps to have been the name of a local tribe, over the years became ‘Leedis’ or ‘Ledes,’ and then eventually the familiar name of Leeds. The jump then from Loidis to Loiner isn’t a difficult one, and gives us a nicely neat origin for the term.

Theory 2 – A play on local accents

The second theory isn’t quite as wrapped up in antiquity, but rather Leeds culture. It is said that ‘Loiner’ originated as a term for people who gathered in laneways to have a bit of a gossip. As lanes were pronounced ‘loins,’ those who gathered in them were called ‘loiners.’ This theory may be a little too simple, but there is certainly something attractive about a term growing up out of the habits of gossip-starved citizens.

Theory 3 – The merged word

Slightly less entertaining is the theory that ‘Loiner’ comes from the 19th century with the meshing of the words ‘low in,’ a local term for the back entrances of yards and closes. Theory has it that this particular term was used in the Briggate area, and Loiners were originally only those who were born within the sound of Briggate’s church bells.

So, does this mean that only Briggate-bound people are true Loiners? Today, the term is used to refer to any Leeds citizen, regardless of the area of their birth. This is probably a good thing, as the sounds of Leeds have changed significantly since the days when distance could be judged by the travelling sound of church bells!

Taking it back to the classics

Of course, everyone likes to have a term to roll out on official occasions, one that graduates can drop with pride, and Loiners aren’t any different. For those emerging from Loiner institutions, ‘Leodiensian’ or ‘Leodensian’ has to stand in for more classical terms. Although the term ‘Leodensian’ isn’t a traditional name for Leeds citizens, it does have a certain charm. Plus, with an appearance in a Kaiser Chiefs song I Predict A Riot, it has the appeal of popular culture about it – and puzzled many of those not from the area as to what the Kaiser Chiefs were referencing.

Despite its debated and somewhat dubious origins, the word ‘Loiner’ wraps up in two short syllables a significant amount of history and culture. No matter which theory you may personally prefer, it is hard to help being intrigued, and a little proud, when you discover that you can call yourself a Loiner.

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