No one seems to be too sure why Indy became the familiar nickname for Indianapolis. It may just be that someone along the line got tired of pronouncing all six syllables. Nicknames are typically used as a term of endearment, so someone out there must have loved it, or at least said the whole word enough to get tired of it.
“Indy” is simply a shortened version of “Indianapolis”, and is well-recognized across the world. It’s certainly much faster than its extremely long originator, but many events are associated with the Indy namesake.
Indianapolis is also referred to as “Naptown,” or “The Nap.” Although people might tell you that Naptown is more of a put-down than a nickname, it originated because of the letters n-a-p in IndiaNAPolis. A city named Morristown might be nicknamed “Mo-town,” but it has nothing to do with music or Detroit. Naptown has nothing to do with sleep, contrary to popular belief.
The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (the Indy 500) is perhaps the most famous use of the name, and the nickname is also applied to the Indy Car and Indy Racing. The term “Indy car” was first coined in 1980, meaning the type of race car seen in the famous annual race. It was then trademarked in 1992 by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Those who live in and around Indianapolis affectionately refer to the city as Indy. “I live in Indy,” or “I grew up in Indy” are common phrases well-understood across the country. Hoosiers that reside in suburban areas around the city love to travel to Indy to catch a movie at an Indianapolis movie theater or an Indianapolis Colts game for a fun night out.