On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state to join the Union. While it is perhaps best known for the Mississippi River, which defines its boundary, it also holds the record for being the first state in the nation to have a planned system of junior colleges.
However, Mississippi is also uncomfortably infamous for ranking low in health, education, and development measures. With a population of nearly 3 million, the state has the lowest per-capita income in the whole of the United States at $25,444, below the US average of $35,384.
The Mississippi Delta is generally considered the birthplace of blues music, with the new musical form emerging around the turn of the 19th century. So it is with many thanks to Mississippi that a popular genre of music is known around the globe.
Did you know that in 2002, 48-year-old marathon swimmer Martin Strel became the first person to swim the entire length of the Mississippi River, for which he received a Guinness World Record certificate? The 2,414-mile swim took a total of 68 days to complete.
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Famous Mississippi Nicknames
That said, let’s explore eight known nicknames for Mississippi.
1. Magnolia State
Mississippi has been inhabited for more than 12,000 years, with Native Americans residing there for thousands of years. Mississippi means “big river” and comes from the Ojibwe language. Its most famous nickname is “The Magnolia State,” which honors the stately beauty of the magnolia trees of Mississippi. The magnolia is Mississippi’s official state tree, and the blossom is Mississippi’s official state flower. The nickname appears on the Mississippi 50 States commemorative quarter issued in October 2002.
2. Bayou State
A bayou is a wetland or marshy lake, often found in the Gulf Region of the southern United States. Mississippi is sometimes referred to as “The Bayou State,” a moniker it shares with Louisiana for its slow-moving streams that wander through marshes and lowlands along the Mississippi River and the southern section of the state to the Gulf coast.
3. Mud-cat State
As far back as 1872, Mississippi was known as the “Mud-cat State,” named after a giant bullhead catfish that lived in the river mud. The nickname is identified with the famous catfish industry of Mississippi. Though the fish are prominent in Mississippi’s economy, the state has moved on to the state flower as its symbol. The message of the mud-cat is: “No matter how much the river-of-life may change, we are survivors.” Now, the message appears: “Sooner or later, out of the mud grows the magnolia.”
4. Eagle State/Border Eagle State
Mississippi is known as the “Eagle State” or “Border Eagle State.” When Mississippi gained statehood in 1817, it decided to use the seal it had used since 1798, when Mississippi was still a territory. It bears a modified version of the arms of the United States. Its nickname as the “Eagle State” comes from the coat of arms that depicts an eagle holding an olive branch in its talons and arrows, symbolizing the desire for peace but the ability to wage war.
5. Hospitality State
Mississippi is known for its oft-delayed and stalled civil rights legacy and its eternal fight for equality, most notably in the 1960s. However, the state is also famous for its generosity, a rich literary and artistic history, and the true southern hospitality that it prides itself on, leading it to be regarded as the “Hospitality State.”
6. Mud-Waddler State
“Mud-Waddler State” is a lesser-known nickname for Mississippi that may be referencing the common fish or fauna found throughout the state. In John Goff’s 1892 “Book of Nicknames,” Mississippi is referred to as “The Mud-waddler” state with no explanation given.
7. Groundhog State
The origins of the nickname “Groundhog State,” like in the previous entry, is from John Goff’s 1892 “Book of Nicknames,” and like before, no explanation is given for it. There is reason to believe, however, that this nickname originated at some point due to the population of groundhogs in Mississippi.
8. The Sipp/The Sip
Although not many locals might agree with this, in recent times “The Sipp” or “The Sip” has become a nickname for the state of Mississippi. How the name originated remains unclear as different theories abound, including being easy to pronounce and a “diss” at Mississippians. Nevertheless, the name sounds catchy, with even a local publication going by that same name.
This brings our list of nicknames for Mississippi to a close. Are there any we may have omitted? Let us know in the comments below.