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Tar Heel


Definition: "Tar Heel" is the nickname for both the University of North Carolina basketball team and the state of North Carolina -- the "Tar Heel State."

The "tar" portion of the term is fairly obvious -- during colonial days, North Carolina was a big producer of the sticky black substance used in ship building. But "tar heel" as a reference to North Carolinians is a Civil War-era innovation:

One record talks of a battle in Virginia, where their supporting column retreated, but North Carolina troops fought alone. The victorious troops were asked in a condescending tone by some Virginians, who had retreated, "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" The response came quickly: "No, not a bit; old Jeff's bought it all up." The Virginians asked: "Is that so? What is he going to do with it?" The reply: "He is going to put it on you'ns heels to make you stick better in the next fight."
Source: UNC Alumni Magazine
Also Known As: 'Heels
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