U.S. State Nicknames
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Where nicknames have been adopted by legislation they are designated as official. Some nicknames have not been adopted officially but are recognised by the state government as the state nickname. These are designated as unofficial but state recognised. Other unofficial nicknames are only included where they are recognised by the state government as alternative state nicknames or have some historical significance to the state.
Unofficial nickname. Derived from its telephone area code
Official nickname. Since 1959 the Polynesian greeting has given the state its official nickname.
Unofficial nickname. The name appears to have arisen from the early lead miners who worked at the Illinois Galena lead mines in the 1830s. These mines are close to where Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin meet. However, "badger" arose not from the burrowing in the lead mines, but because those from Wisconsin did not live in houses, but in caves in the hillside that looked like badger burrows. They earned the nickname at the mines, and took it back on their return to Wisconsin.
Unofficial nickname. Comes from the state slogan adopted in 1937 because Nevada joined the union during the civil war.
Unofficial nickname. A bayou is a small secondary river that feeds into larger bodies of water. It is often marshy and slow moving. Because of the many slow, sluggish small streams that meander through the lowlands and marshes of the southern section of the state, Louisiana is often referred to as "The Bayou State."
Unofficial nickname. Massachusetts is a commonwealth, and is usually known as the Bay State, a nickname that goes back to its early settlers in 1789, with Old Bay State appearing about 50 years later. Alludes to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, founded in 1628.
Unofficial nickname. Oregon's state animal is the beaver (since 1969), and it is a widely recognised symbol for the state - which has led the State University athletic team to be known as "the Beavers", and state to being called the Beaver State.
Unofficial nickname. Bees are the Utah state insect and the state symbol is the beehive. Utahans relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance.
Unofficial nickname. Refers to the state’s wide open spaces. A relatively recent nickname, "Big Sky Country" originated with a 1962 promotion of the Montana State Highway Department. It is a reference to the unobstructed skyline in the state. The name came from a book by Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr., Big Sky. Mr. Guthrie gave the Highway Department permission to use the name and Montana has been "Big Sky Country" ever since.
Unofficial nickname. In the spring, bluegrass produces bluish-purple buds that when seen in large fields give a rich blue cast to the grass.
Unofficial nickname. This nickname is said to have been given to Delaware after the fighting Blue Hen Cocks that were carried with the Delaware Revolutionary War soldiers for entertainment during cock fights. The Blue Hen is Delaware's state bird.
Unofficial nickname. This name came into use at the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, New York in 1902. The superior wheat, flour and dairy products of Minnesota and its numerous flourmills and butter-making plants caused the state to be referred to as ‘The Bread and Butter State’.
Unofficial nickname. The markings on the buckeye tree's nut resembled the eye of a buck deer and so the Indians called it "hetuck" or "buckeye." The nickname owes a lot to William Henry Harrison who, during the 1840 presidential adopted a log cabin made of buckeye timber as his emblem, and many of his supporters would carry buckeye canes.
Unofficial nickname. Colorado became a state in 1876 which is the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Official nickname. John Fiske claimed the Fundamental Orders of 1638/39 as the first written constitution in history.
Official nickname. Named after the University of Nebraska football team, the Cornhuskers.
Unofficial nickname. Cotton production in Alabama was a major influence in the growth and culture of the state. Alabama was singled out as THE Cotton State because of its central location in the Cotton Belt. Cotton was Alabama's leading crop and Alabama was considered a leading cotton producer. Alabama ranked 11th for cotton cash receipts in 2004.
Unofficial nickname. The state's symbol is a cowboy on a bucking bronco, leading to some calling it the Cowboy State.
Unofficial nickname. Refers to the large number of coyotes in South Dakota. South Dakota adopted the Coyote as state animal in 1949.
Unofficial nickname. Indiana and, more specifically, the city of Indianapolis is the hub for several major Interstate highways.
Unofficial nickname. Wisconsin is predominantly a dairy state, producing 40% of the country's cheese, and 20% of its butter.
Unofficial nickname. A nickname that recognize its vast wealth and variety of resources. George Washington referred to New York state as "the seat of Empire" in 1784, which sowed the seed for the state's long-term nickname which appeared in around 1820.
Unofficial nickname. Originally used in the mid 19th C. This nickname represented a determination in the Georgia citizenry to be leader in industrial and economic development in the southern tier of states.
Unofficial but state recognised nickname. The first grant of suffrage in the US was made in Wyoming in 1869, leading to the state being called the Suffrage State then the Equality State. Wyoming women were the first in the United States to vote, serve on juries and hold public office.
Unofficial nickname. At one time, in the 1860s, Florida was known as The Peninsula State, for obvious reasons. Later in the 19th century, it also became known as The Everglades State. The everglades are a large subtropical swamp in southern Florida that is noted for their wildlife.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed by C.T. Conover, pioneer Seattle realtor and historian, for its abundant evergreen forests.
Official nickname. Delaware was the first of the 13 original states to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
Unofficial nickname. Refers to the Richardson ground squirrels which are abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow.
Unofficial nickname. A name coined by Abraham Browning in a speech at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876.
Unofficial nickname. An erroneous understanding that Idaho was a Shoshone word for Gem Of The Mountains.
Offical nickname. Nickname comes from the discovery of gold there in 1848 and for fields of golden poppies that bloom each spring there.
Unofficial nickname. There was discussion in the mid 19th C about whether to call Minnesota "The Gopher State" or "The Beaver State." In February 1858, the new Minnesota Legislature introduced the “Five Million Loan” bill. The purpose was to provide money to build railroads in the state. During the public debate, a cartoon circulated depicting the railroad tycoons as nine gophers with human heads pulling a Gopher Train. This possibly helped sway the decision to The Gopher State. In fact, the nickname refers to the “striped gopher” which is not actually a gopher, but is a thirteen-lined ground squirrel.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for its most significant geological feature The Grand Canyon located in northwest Arizona.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for the traditional rock of the state. Once there was a large industry in the state for quarrying this rock.
Unofficial but most commonly used nickname. Michigan's shores touch four of the five Great Lakes, and Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes. In Michigan, you are never more than 6 miles from an inland lake or more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.
Unofficial nickname. Verd Mont was a name given to the Green Mountains in October, 176l, by the Rev. Dr. Peters.
Unofficial nickname. Nobody is quite sure where the name "Hawkeye" came from, it may have been coined as a tribute to the Indian leader, Chief Black Hawk. It seems to have applied to Iowans from around 1840, and The Hawkeye State is first recorded around 1859.
Unofficial nickname. This was introduced by the state's Chamber of Commerce in the 1940s for publicity purposes, and in 1951 was approved by the legislature for inclusion on licence plates. The Chamber noted that "Alabama is geographically the Heart of Dixie, Alabama is industrially the Heart of Dixie, Alabama is, in fact, the Heart of Dixie."
Unofficial nickname. Has had this nickname since the 1830s. There are many versions of the reasoning behind this nickname but no agreement on its origins.
Unofficial nickname. The Jayhawker State is a name derived from the slang name for a Kansan from around 1875 (although it was used in a wider sense as a fighting abolitionist before then), and still occasionally used, but shortened to Jayhawk State.
Unofficial nickname. probably applied to Pennsylvania from the late 18th C. The first official citation is from 1802, when at a rally Pennsylvania was toasted as "the keystone in the union".
Unofficial nickname. Minnesota is known on its license plates as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but Minnesota actually has 11,842 lakes that are 10 acres or more. The legend of Paul Bunyan gives Paul and Babe the Blue Ox credit for creating the lakes with their footprints. In reality, Minnesota’s many lakes were created by the filling of depressions when four large glacier systems melted.
Unofficial nickname. Lincoln began his political career in Illinois, and in 1955 Illinois’ slogan became Land of Lincoln.
Unofficial nickname. The midnight sun is a phenomenon where the sun remains visible at the local midnight.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed because of its opportunities and many lightly settled regions.
Unofficial nickname. Named from the single star on the state flag.
Unofficial nickname. Named because of the abundance of magnolia flowers and trees in the state.
Unofficial nickname. Virginia supplied seven of the first twelve of the US Presidents.
Unofficial nickname. Virginia was the first state to be colonised.
Unofficial nickname. Named for the Appalachian Mountains which extend through the eastern portion of the state.
Official nickname. Named for the epic sculpture of the faces of four exalted American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
Official nickname. Arkansas is known throughout the country for its natural beauty, clear lakes and streams and abundance of natural wildlife. "Because of our unsurpassed scenery, clear lakes, free-flowing streams, magnificent rivers, meandering bayous, delta bottomlands, forested mountains, and abundant fish and wildlife, the official nickname for the State of Arkansas is proclaimed to be "The Natural State"." House Concurrent Resolution, No. 26, Acts 1953, p. 1511; A.S.A. 1947, § 5-110; Acts 1995, No. 1352, § 1.
Official nickname. "The North Star State" evolved from the State Motto L'Etoile du Nord or "Star of the North." The State Motto appears on the Great Seal of Minnesota and the State Flag.
Unofficial nickname. The origins of the nutmeg connection to Connecticut is unknown. It may have come from its sailors returning from voyages with nutmeg. It may have originated in the early machined sheet tin nutmeg grinders sold by early Connecticut peddlers. It is also facetiously said to come from peddlers from Connecticut who would sell small carved nobs of wood shaped to look like nutmeg to unsuspecting customers.
Rhode Island is found parted away from the mainland of the United States of America and it is surrounded by oceans.
Unofficial nickname. Alludes to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, founded in 1628. This nickname applied to the early settlements of the Plymouth Colony in the years 1620-1628, before the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established. The name first appeared around 1798,
Unofficial but state recognised nickname. Virginia has the oldest citation for any state nickname. Old Dominion has its first recorded sighting in 1778, but this derives from Ancient Dominion, the nickname for the state from the end of the 17th century. Given the nickname by King Charles II of England at the time of the Restoration for remaining loyal to the crown during the English Civil War.
Unoffical nickname. Name supposedly bestowed by Gen. George Washington on The Maryland Line, regular line troops who served courageously in many battles of the Revolutionary War.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for the official state tree, the Sabal Palmetto
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for The International Peace Garden which straddles the international Boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba.
Unofficial nickname. Peaches are grown as a fruit crop here and peach is the offical fruit.
Unofficial nickname. Nickamed for the official state bird, the brown pelican.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for the white pine, the offical state tree, and remembering that Maine has 17 million acres of forests.
Unofficial nickname. For the state's most well-known crop.
Unofficial nickname. A name which it has had since at least as early as 1842, before which it was a term applied to all the plain states. Illinois has an annual Prairie Week to highlight the need to preserve native Illinois prairie.
Unofficial nickname. Though not official, Arkansas is very often referred to as the Razorback State in reference to the athletic teams of the University of Arkansas. A razorback is a thin, long-legged wild pig found in the state of Arkansas.
Unofficial nickname. This name originated in a state-supported tourism promotion of the 1960s and 70s. It refers to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry which Theodore Roosevelt organized to fight in the Spanish-American War. In fact, the "Roughriders," which included several North Dakota cowboys, fought dismounted in Cuba due to logistical problems.
Unofficial nickname. Sagebrush is the state's official flower.
Unofficial nickname. Nickname attributed to Representative Willard Van Diver. It conotates a certain self-deprecating stubbornness and devotion to simple common sense.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for the state's large silver mine industries.
Unofficial nickname. Nickname comes from the opening of the territory in 1889 to settlers. Some of these came early in this rush to settle and were called "The Sooners."
Official nickname. Nicknamed for the official state flower and the wildflowers of the plains of Kansas.
Unofficial nickname. Was the official nickname until it was relaced in 1980 by Mount Rushmore State.
Unofficial nickname. Nicknamed for a Civil War battle where North Carolina Confederate troops "stuck out" a battle alone when other troops fled the field.
Unofficial nickname. The nickname reflects the importance of mining in the state.
Unofficial nickname.The nickname originated during the War of 1812 when thousands of Tennesseans enlisted in response to Governor Willie Blount's call for volunteers.
Unofficial nickname. Just how Michigan came to be known as the Wolverine State is subject to many theories, particularly since most experts agree that if the wolverine was ever present in Michigan, it was never here in abundance. Some people believe that Ohioans gave Michigan the nickname around 1835 during a dispute over the Toledo strip, a piece of land along the border between Ohio and Michigan. Rumors in Ohio at the time described Michiganians as being as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines.
Unofficial nickname. Many people believe that it derives from the species of woodpecker - in reality, it arose from the yellow colour of the home-dyed uniforms that the Alabama troops wore during the Civil War.
Facts contributed by:
Allan R. Matthes