In Cambridge, a Havihd student. In Sommaville, a Cambridge resident. Local speakers argue about its derivation: Some say its from "Bahnyahd," a derisive term for Hahvihd Yahd; others argue it comes from the old MBTA cah bahns just outside the Squayuh (the bahns went away when the Red Line was extended to Sommaville).

Eric Vroom recalls: "I can remember about ten years ago people in Somerville had bumper stickers and hats reading "NO BARNIES IN SOMERVILLE!!" And it just didn't mean Harvard students, it was any geek from Cambridge."

Meanwhile, R.D. McVout shows how to use the word as an adjective, in his contribution to a debate in the newsgroup about trendy restaurants in Somerville: "Why don't all of you terminally hip folks go and discover some other environment to befoul and bemoan? As a resident of Somerville, I'd be beside myself with glee if all of you Barney-assed pseudo-cognoscenti would climb into your Explorers and go back across the river where you obviously long to be."



re: Bahnie

its so funny that barney is on here - my dad's always told me the story of that word. obviously i have no way of proving it, but why would he make that stuff up? he always told me about how a chunk of his friends (all somerville natives) worked in the harvard cafeteria serving food and the students were so ridiculously geeky, they would call them barnies as joke slang. my dad never realized how well it caught on until like 10 years ago when he called a bike messenger a "Fahkin Bahnie" and the guy flipped out and started chasing his car.haha well i believe it, but maybe i'm more inclined to. it seems to fit though, am i right?

re: Bahnie

What other stories are there about the etymology?... of barnieWhat other notions do some people have about the origin of the word?... barnie

re: Bahnie

I remember an article in The Globe, maybe 15 years ago, where the reporter interviewed a group of teenage Somerville townies who hung out together at a neighborhood park. The article mentioned that they derisively referred to those who adopted a hippie-influenced style, typified by Birkenstock sandals worn with socks, as "bahnies" because it looked like they had just come in from "the bahn". I remember this because I found it very amusing, and was impressed but not overly surprised when I heard Will Hunting use the term. Damon and Afleck, both Cambridge townies, had no doubt encountered more than a few "bahnies" in Harvard Square.

re: Bahnie

Funny, I grew up in Somerville and have no recollection of this term, referring to either students or people from Cambridge. My father was a blue collar worker in Cambridge and would spend lots of time in their homes, and I never heard him say it.


I've lived in Cambridge for a few years and I lived in Somerville for about 13 years. The difference between the two places is amazing considering they share a large border. But that's about all they share! By contrast, Cambridge population generally speaking varies quite a lot by what part of Cambridge they're from. If it's Central Sq. (where I am now) the range is way off the meter in either direction. From down to earth to certified nutzo with lots of emphasis on the latter. Wacky, but interesting to say the least.
Somerville seems much more homogenous (not meant to be particularly flattering, by the way) except for the artist population that migrated from Cambridge when the rents started going sky high over there after rent control vanished in the early to mid nineties. Serves those Sommervillans right for being so....Sommervillanish! Anyway Somerville needed some more interesting, shall we say, people over there that are not bahnies but are not homogenous, either. So there!