Old English sona "at once, immediately, directly, forthwith," from West Germanic *sæno (cf. Old Frisian son, Old Saxon sana, Old High German san, Gothic suns "soon"). Sense softened early Middle English to "within a short time" (cf. anon). American English. Sooner for "Oklahoma native" is 1930 (earlier "one who acts prematurely," 1889), from the 1889 opening to whites of what was then part of Indian Territory, when many would-be settlers sneaked onto public land and staked their claims "sooner" than the legal date and time.