What is a Tar Heel? 3 FACTs you should know

What is a Tar Heel?

North Carolinians know that the term “Tar Heel” refers to someone who was born or lives in North Carolina. But out-of-staters may not be aware of this, and they’re often confused when people call them Tar Heels.

This guide will help you understand what it means to be a Tar Heel, and how we got our nickname. You’ll also learn about other nicknames for North Carolinians like Rednecks and Blue Hens (a type of bird). We’ve even included some fun facts about UNC’s mascot – Rameses!

What is a Tar Heel?
What is a Tar Heel?

What is a Tar Heel?

North Carolina is not just the “Tar Heel State.” It’s more than that, it’s a Tar-Hearth and Heeler for North Carolinians who love their state.

The term appears to have come into popular use after the Civil War despite its clear connection with our prominent role in one of America’s most vital industries: naval stores (tar, turpentine or pitch). The first known instance emerged from diary entry written by 2nd Lt William B A Lowrance 46th Regiment NC Troops

North Carolina has a storied history of being home to some great universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This prestigious school is known by it’s students as “Tar Heels.” But how did they get this nickname?

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Civil War Origins of “Tar Heel” | NC DNCR

The story begins in 1876 when James Dickey came up with “Tar heeler State” while on vacation near Charlotte NC after noticing that farmers’ feet were burnt from walking through long snow drifts during Christmas time despite wearing heavy shoes called ‘heelers.’ The term quickly caught on and today both residents & visitors alike can appreciate what Mr DuCane meant when he said: “North carolina means living right out there among them high mountain towns where folks go barefoot all winter:.

It is believed that the nickname “Tar Heel State” was first applied to North Carolinians during their Civil War. During this time, one record talks about how they were forced into battle without help from other states’ troops due to Virginian’s condescending tone asking if any more of them are down in “the old north state” boys!

The Virginians asked, “is that so? What is he going to do with it?” The reply: ‘He will put the gun powder on your heels in order for you not want easily slip when running away during battle next time.”

The insult, “tar heel” eventually became a badge of honor for North Carolinians. During the Civil War when Robert E Lee famously said “God bless the Tar Heel Boys” after leading his troops to victory against Union General Stroud in 1864 during Reconstruction period—North Carolina had just come back into United States as an independent state two years ago following over seven decadeslong reconstruction effort which started with defeat at hands but ended on top after gaining full rights under constitution.”

Why We’re All Called Tar Heels

Tar heels are a symbol of North Carolina’s humble beginnings as the state was once home to many turpentine refineries and those who worked in them. These workers would often go without shoes during hot summer months because their feet were too greasy for any kind of leather or rubber footwear, just like how tar sticking onto one’s shoe could be seen as evidence that person had been employed at one point with little status within society; this info comes straight from history books we read back when our teacher taught us!

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North Carolina soldiers during the Civil War were proud to be known as “tar heels,” an expression of state pride. Others adopted this term and North Carolina soon became widely known for it’s Tar Heel State nickname, which stuck even after they left active service when times got tough again in 1865.

The civil war had its hardships but also made way too many people proud because their home was now fighting back against slavery instead of accepting defeat like before.


What does Tar Heel refer to?

North Carolina is known for its beautiful scenery, outdoor activities like hiking and camping in the mountains. The state also has a rich history that dates back to colonial times when it was an English colony called “Northwest Territory.” Today Tar Heels are proud of this heritage while enjoying modern amenities with their family members at home on large ranches or small farms where they grow produce too!

Is Tar Heel a slur?

It has been said that the term “Tar Heel” is an insult, referring to turpentine and pitch production in Eastern North Carolina. Others say it’s a badge of honor because Robert E Lee reportedly exclaimed during one battle: “God Bless The Tar Heels Boys!”

Why is Tar Heels offensive?

“Rosin heels,” or “tar heels” were once an epithet for North Carolina soldiers. They called themselves this phrase during the Civil War because they felt it showed pride in their state and workmanship, just like how we call someone who is honest even though he/she may not be considered luxurious material by some people today such as gold medalists at Olympics sports competitions that put national skill above personal gain.”

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What animal is a Tar Heel?

What animal is a Tar Heel?
What animal is a Tar Heel?

The Carolina Tar Heels have been playing football for nearly 70 years and their mascot is a ram. Why did they choose this animal? It might seem strange to some people, but maybe that’s because we don’t know any other animals with such big horns!


If you’ve been wondering what a Tar Heel is, then this blog post should help answer that question. A Tar Heel is someone who lives in North or South Carolina and cheers for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball team. This term also applies to any person from either state who supports UNC sports teams-especially if they are fans of their rival Duke Blue Devils! So next time you hear somebody say “they can beat Duke anytime, anywhere,” it might be worth asking them where they live before making your wager on the game outcome.

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