They first referred to themselves as “the disciples.” Outsiders called them “the new sect” or “Gold Bible apostles.” But within a year of the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its members were widely known as “Mormonites.” Now, almost two centuries later, the Church’s nickname is much the same.
For the first eight years of its existence, the Church’s official name took on a few varieties — Church of Christ and Church of the Latter-day Saints are just two. At that time, it was customary to label a movement after its founder or principal leader. So the movement should have been called, by outsiders, the Josephites or Smithites. But a local newspaper editor dubbed believers “Mormonites” after the book that animated them.