This article is about nicknames for Nashville. The capital of Tennessee, Nashville, is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States with a population of 689,447 per the 2020 census making it the 21st most populous city in the U.S.
The city, founded in 1779, takes its name from Francis Nash, a general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The city is considered a major center for the music industry, especially country music, which has popularized Nashville as the “Music City.”
Did you know that Nashville is home to the largest songwriter’s festival in the world? Tin Pan South takes place every spring and draws more than 350 songwriters who perform original work in venues around the city.
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Popular Nicknames for Nashville
That said, let’s explore the most popular nicknames for Nashville.
1. Music City
“Music City” is perhaps Nashville’s most famous moniker. However, what may be surprising is that this nickname which came about more than a century ago, may not have been coined by an American but by a monarch, Queen Victoria. According to some sources, upon hearing the Acappella group perform at a show in Great Britain in 1873, Queen Victoria remarked that the singers must come from “Music City,” taken to imply Nashville. Some historians argue that this story is a mere legend and that the city did not officially earn its nickname until the 1950s.
2. Athens of the South
Nashville acquired its name as “Athens of the South” primarily because it has over 24 post-secondary educational institutions dedicated to higher education. However, it was perpetuated in a few other ways—from the building of the Greek-Revival-styled State Capitol to the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, which brought about Nashville’s iconic Parthenon building.
3. Buckle of the Bible Belt
Tennessee belongs to the “Bible Belt,” a region of the Southern United States in which socially conservative Protestant Christianity plays a vital role in society and politics. Evangelical Christianity is a strong cultural force in the American South, with over 800 churches and a vibrant Christian music scene. As the religious publishing capital of America, Nashville is often called “The Buckle on the Bible Belt.”
The city of Las Vegas conjures up imagery of gaming slots, loud music, and flashing lights. For similar reasons, Nashville has earned the name “Nashvegas” for its Broadway neon lights and lively nightlife. For all its charm, Nashvegas is an attractive destination for tourists drawn to country music.
A well-known nickname for Nashville is “Cashville,” popularized by rapper Young Buck’s 2004 album, “Straight Outta Cashville.” Young Buck was born in Nashville, which explains the tribute. The late singer Johnny Cash also resided in Nashville, which may provide an alternative explanation for the moniker.
“Smashville” comes from the hometown hockey team, Nashville Predators. The name came about when a fan, Frank Glinski, had a conversation with the Predators’ then-vice president of marketing, Tom Ward. According to Yahoo News, in a fan contest for the team’s new slogan, the name “Smashville” was put forward. Ward recalls seeing the “Smashville” entry cross his desk and having an epiphany. “I said ‘that’s it.’ Out of the thousands, that’s the one,” he said.
Glinski is now known as “Mr. Smashville” locally, just as Nashville earned itself a new nickname.
7. Protestant Vatican
Nashville reportedly has more churches per capita than any other city in the United States. It contains over 800 houses of worship from different faiths. The overwhelming majority of worshippers are Protestant, leading Nashville to be dubbed the “Protestant Vatican” since the mid-twentieth century.
8. Little Kurdistan
Nashville, Tennessee, has the largest Kurdish population in the U.S. has had four waves of Kurdish refugee resettlement between 1976 and 1997. In 2013, Nashville had doubled its number of immigrants from the previous decade, ranking it one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. The presence of this thriving community of Kurds has made Nashville earn the nickname “Little Kurdistan.”
9. Cashville ten-a-key
“Cashville ten-a-key” is a deliberate distortion of “Nashville, Tennessee” and has grown to become a slang term for Nashville. The Urban Dictionary defines it as a kilogram of coke selling for $10,000 in Nashville. However, we strongly advise against doing that.
10. Powder City of the World
The DuPont gunpowder factory was one of the largest in the U.S. before WWI. By September 1918, the plant produced 700,000 pounds of smokeless powder daily. It was from this plant at Jacksonville that Nashville earned the nickname “Powder City of the World.” After the war ended on November 11, 1918, the powder was no longer needed, and the plant soon closed.
11. Wall Street of the South
Nashville used to be known as the “Wall Street of the South” for its financial district comprising four large bank buildings. However, that legacy appears to have faded following mismanagement and poor loans from which the banks never recovered. That designation now belongs to Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta.
“Gnashville” is the Nashville Predators National Hockey League team. It comes from the extension of Gnash, the team’s mascot. The name is also derisively used to mock opposing teams who lose to the Predators implying that they are gnashing their teeth in defeat.
13. Hot Chicken Capital
Nashville has earned the moniker “The Hot Chicken Capital” for its specialty cuisine, hot chicken seasoned heavily with spices dominated by cayenne pepper. The Music City Hot Chicken Festival is hosted annually in Nashville, and several restaurants make this spicy version of southern fried chicken.
14. Birthplace of Country Music
Although factually speaking, the “Birthplace of Country Music” is regarded as Bristol. Some opine that the evolution of hillbilly and country music is because of Nashville’s bubbling music industry, and as such, the title should be ceded to Nashville.
While not technically a nickname, “Nashborough” was the earliest name for Nashville and was named after Fort Nashborough, in honor of General Francis Nash. In 1784 the community’s name was changed from Nashborough to Nashville.
This brings our list of Nashville nicknames to a conclusion. Are there Nashville nicknames we left out? Let us know in the comments below.