The 50 American State Nicknames and Their Meanings

What are the nicknames of all the states?

You probably know the official nickname of your state and a couple of other famous ones like the Empire State or the Sunshine State.

But do you know the nicknames of all the states in the US or the story behind these state nicknames?

Typically, most state nicknames come from some obscure tall tale about the state, the majesty of its landscapes, the history of its people, or the deposits of natural resources found in the state.

In this article, you are going to learn all the official and unofficial nicknames of all the states in the United States, as well as the juicy details on how each nickname came to be.

nicknames of american states

50 States Nicknames: Official and Unofficial

state nicknames

Asides the official state nicknames, we have also inlcuded the unofficial nicknames of each of the 50 states in the United States.

Note – The first nickname under each state is the state’s official nickname.

Alabama Nicknames

Alabama state nicknames

  • Yellowhammer State: Since the Civil War, Alabama has been known as the “Yellowhammer State.” A group of Huntsville cavalry soldiers under the command of Rev. D.C. Kelly rode to Hopkinsville, KY, where they met General Forest’s troops. Compared to the battle-weary troops in Hopkinsville, the cavalry wore bright new uniforms with unsullied yellow armbands. As they passed Company A, Pvt. Will Arnett called out: “Yellowhammer, Yellowhammer, flicker, flicker!” Everyone laughed hysterically and the name soon spread through the entire Confederate Army, then eventually became Alabama’s official nickname.
  • Heart of Dixie: “Dixie” was taken from the $10 notes from the Bank of Louisiana, as “dix” mean “ten” in French. The South eventually became known as “Dixieland,” Alabama serving as the capital of the Confederacy. Hence, “the Heart of Dixie” was coined by the Alabama Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s. For a while, this nickname featured on state license plates.
  • Camellia State: Camellia japonica is the state flower of Alabama.
  • Cotton State: Alabama is the largest cotton-growing state east of the Mississippi. Cotton nicknames such as “Cotton Plantation State” (1844), “Cottondom” (1856), Cotton Belt (1871), “Cotton Country” (1871), or “Cottonia” (1862) are applied to the southern region as a whole.
  • Stars Fell on Alabama: This nickname comes from a 1934 jazz standard by Frank Perkins, with lyrics by Mitchell Parish. The song was made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. Additionally, it harkens back to a meteorological event in November Gov. Don Siegelman wrote of the meteor shower: “It is my hope that this design will help send a message that stars have indeed fallen on Alabama and continue to fall on Alabama.” In January 2002, this phrase replaced “Heart of Dixie” on Alabama license plates.
  • Lizard State: As early as 1845, Alabamians were known as “lizards.”

Alaska Nicknames

Alaska nicknames

  • The Last Frontier: Due to Alaska’s geographic distance from the rest of the U.S. and its harsh, rugged landscapes, it earned this nickname. Even now, Alaska has been rather sparsely settled. When admitted as the 49th state in January 1959, it was dubbed “America’s Last Frontier.”
  • Land of the Midnight Sun: During summer, the sun shines nearly around the clock.
  • The Great Land: Alaska comes from the Yupik, or native peoples of the region, word “Alyeska” which means “that which the sea breaks against” or “great land.”
  • Seward’s Folly: In 1867, Secretary of State William Seward argued for the purchase of Alaska, and it was often derided as a “folly.”
  • Seward’s Icebox: Another play on William Seward’s purchase and Alaska’s cold climate.
  • Russian America: The Alaskan territory belonged to Russia before its purchase by the U.S.
  • Territory of Baranov: After Alexander Baranov, the early Russian leader before the purchase by the U.S.
  • Mainland State: Another allusion to Yupik word for “great land.”
  • The 49th State: Alaska became the 49th state of America on January 4, 1959.
  • Sourdough State: Refers to the life-sustaining bread that many settlers would bring. “Sourdough” thus became linked with a person who is tough, rugged, and survivalist. It often applied to those regions with gold rushes as well.
  • North Star State: Play on northern geography, but shares this name with Minnesota.
  • Up Over: A funny allusion to New Zealand and Australia, which are known as “Down Under.”

Arizona Nicknames

Arizona nicknames

  • The Grand Canyon State: The Grand Canyon is a unique and world-famous natural phenomenon located in the northern section of the state.
  • Copper State: Lots of copper mineral found in soil; the color is also featured in the copper star on Arizona’s state flag.
  • Apache State: American Indian Apache tribe was prevalent in this region.
  • The Baby State: Arizona was the 48th state admitted to America in 1912. It lost this nickname with the induction of Alaska in 1959.
  • Aztec State: There are many archaeological recoveries of Aztec structures from the Gila and Salt River valleys.
  • Italy of America: Draws a comparison between the mountainous beauty of Arizona and Italy.
  • Sand Hill State: Refers to Arizona’s numerous
  • Sunset State: Famous for its gorgeous desert sunsets that paint the landscape in yellows, reds, and oranges.
  • Valentine State: Arizona actually became a state on February 14, 1912.

Arkansas Nicknames

Arkansas nicknames

  • The Natural State: Officially adopted as its nickname by the 80th General Assembly in 1995, Arkansas is famous for its natural splendor, its wild forests, and clean-flowing rivers. The tagline, “Arkansas is a Natural” was created to promote outdoor tourism.
  • Bowie State: Bowie knives were created in Arkansas, and they became famous here first as the knife of choice and quickly gained worldwide notoriety.
  • Toothpick State: Another allusion to Bowie knives as these were sometimes referred to as “toothpick knives.”
  • Hot Water State: Refers to the many natural hot springs in the area.
  • The Land of Opportunity: Before the adoption of “the Natural State,” Arkansas had this official nickname.
  • Bear State: The earliest known nickname, dating back all the way to 1858. It refers to the large amount of Louisiana black bears found in the region until the middle of the 20th-century when the bear population decreased.
  • Wonder State: Arkansas was first dubbed the “Wonder State” by the state legislature in 1923.
  • Razorback State: Refers to the wild hogs or pigs native to the region. They have backs with high, narrow ridges.
  • What a State!: A great throwback to 1950s catchphrases.
  • Rackensack: Though the true origin of this term is undetermined, it has been used to refer to those who live in the more rural regions of Arkansas.
  • Diamond State: After prospector John Wesley Huddleston found diamonds in 1906, it began a national rush to Pike County. Due to this, the town of Kimberly grew to house all the new people.

California Nicknames

California nicknames

  • The Golden State: First official in 1968, the “golden state” refers to the gold rush of the 1850s as well as the lush fields of golden poppies.
  • El Dorado State: Refers to the gold rush of 1848 and the legend of ‘El Dorado”, the Golden City.
  • Golden West: Another allusion to the gold rush of 1848.
  • Grape State: California is known for its vineyards and wineries.
  • Land of Milk and Honey: A biblical allusion to the “promised land” or a land of opportunity.
  • The Land of Sunshine and Opportunity
  • Land of Fruits and Nuts
  • Where Stars Are Buried: A play on the famous people of Hollywood, who have lived and died in California.
  • The Cereal Bowl of the Nation: Refers to an abundance of crops, like wheat and oats, that are used to make cereals.
  • The Eureka State: A reference to a “great idea” or perhaps a link to California’s earlier tagline: “Find yourself here.”
  • The Bear Republic: In the summer of 1846, before California belonged to the U.S., a group of American settlers fought against the Mexican government who owned the territory. It is known as the “Bear Flag Revolt.”
  • The Sunshine State: Known for its good weather and sunshine, California was known as “The sunshine state,” until Florida claimed it for its own nickname.

Colorado Nicknames

Colorado nicknames

  • The Centennial State: Colorado was adopted in 1876, one-hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Colorful Colorado: Colorado sceneries display impressive colors over mountains, rivers, and valleys.
  • Columbine State: Columbine became the official state flower in April of 1899.
  • Highest State: Due to the mountains, Colorado boasts a very high elevation.
  • Mile-High State: Another reference to the high elevation. Denver is known as the “Mile-High City.”
  • Switzerland of America: Because Switzerland is famous for its beautiful mountains and lakes and for outdoor activities like skiing, Colorado liked to draw similar comparisons to its own topography.
  • Buffalo Plains State: Many buffalo or bison herds roamed the plains of Colorado.
  • Lead State: Many minerals have been found in the soil, including lead.
  • Rocky Mountain State: Mountain range in Colorado.
  • Silver State: Known for its many silver mines, Colorado tried to lay claim to this nickname, but was beat out by Nevada.
  • Treasure State: Colorado also campaigned for this nickname but lost to Montana.

Connecticut Nicknames

Connecticut nicknames

  • Constitution State: Though often disputed by historians, John Fiske argued that the Fundamental Orders of 1638-39—written in Connecticut—bore the first principles evidenced in the U.S. Constitution. Former Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Simeon E. Baldwin, defended Fiske’s claim by writing: “never had a company of men deliberately met to frame a social compact for immediate use, constituting a new and independent commonwealth, with definite officer, executive and legislative, and prescribed rule and modes of government until the first planters of Connecticut came together for their great work on January 14th, 1638-9.”
  • Nutmeg State: Because the early settlers of Connecticut were innovative and shrewd, a story developed that they were able to sell wooden nutmeg. This story is said to have originated with Judge Haliburton, or Sam Slick. Another story notes that Connecticut peddlers didn’t actually sell wooden nutmeg, but that southern buyers didn’t know that nutmeg had to be grated and thus called it ‘wood.’ It was first known as the “Land of Wooden Nutmegs,” then “The Wooden Nutmeg State,” and eventually just “The Nutmeg State.”
  • Provisions State: Connecticut provided most of the artillery and food for the Continental forces during the Revolutionary War. Albert E. Van Dusen writes that “perhaps the best indication of Connecticut’s pre-eminent position as a supply state is found in Washington’s very frequent appeals to Trumbull for help in provisions.”
  • The Blue Law State: Refers to “Blue Laws” or religious laws in colonial New England that must be observed on Sundays. They usually prohibit entertainment and leisure.
  • Land of Steady Habits: A biblical allusion to the strict religious and moral character of Connecticut’s colonial settlers.
  • The Freestone State: Official nickname in 1843.
  • Arsenal of the Nation: Another allusion to Connecticut supplying artillery to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

Delaware Nicknames

Delaware nicknames

  • The First State: Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in December of 1787. It became the official nickname in May 2002, due to a first-grade class’ petition from Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.
  • Diamond State: Alludes to the sentiment of “small but valuable.” Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson gave Delaware this nickname because of its strategic position along the Eastern Seaboard.
  • Blue Hen State: Comes from the blue-hen cocks that were brought to cockfights to entertain the soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
  • Small Wonder: Due to its size, Delaware was first known as “Uncle Sam’s Pocket Handkerchief” then “Small Wonder.”
  • Peach State: Sometime in the 16th-century, the Spanish brought peaches to Delaware. After 100 years, the state was overrun with peach trees.
  • New Sweden: Because of a Swedish settlement in 1638, it was called Nye Sverige, or “New Sweden.”
  • Land of Tax-Free Shopping: There is no state tax in Delaware, so many tourists come to shop.

Florida Nicknames

Florida nicknames

  • The Sunshine State: Adopted in 1970, this nickname draws on the sunny climate and weather in Florida.
  • Orange State: The orange tree is extremely prevalent in Florida, and the state has become the largest domestic exporter of oranges and orange juice.
  • The Citrus State: Another allusion to the large amount of orange, grapefruit, clementine trees in Florida.
  • Everglades State: The Everglades is protected swamp-land home to many native alligators, snakes, birds, and
  • Alligator State: There are many alligators, and Florida is the only state to have a nickname based on a reptile.
  • The Peninsula State: In the 1860s, Florida was known for its geographic attributes. A peninsula is a body of land surrounded on three sides by water.
  • The Flower State: Draws on the Spanish word for “flower,” which is how Florida got its name.
  • The Gulf State: Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico.

Georgia Nicknames

Georgia nicknames

  • The Peach State: Georgia peaches are renowned for their amazing flavor, size, and Peaches are the official state fruit, and the “The Peach State” became its official nickname in 1995.
  • Empire State of the South: George was an economic leader in the south during the 19th-century.
  • Goober State: Goobers used to be nicknames for peanuts, of which Georgia grows plenty. During the Civil War, Georgians were called “Goober Grabbers,” and due to low rations, Georgians became particularly dependent on this skill of surviving on small things like peanuts.
  • Yankee-land of the South: Refers to the large number of northerners who move to Georgia.
  • Cracker State: A popular slang term during the 1870s was “cracker” which referred to a poor white man of the south. It has also been traced to the sound a whip makes and the domination of a slave-owner. Many Georgians hate this term, and it is no longer used today.
  • Buzzard State: There are many buzzards or large birds that feed on roadkill and other dead animals. They are protected in the state of Georgia.
  • Pine State: There are many pine forests in Georgia, so it has been known as such since

Hawaii Nicknames

Hawaii nicknames

  • The Aloha State: “Alhoa” comes from Hawaii’s indigenous Polynesians. It is a greeting meaning “welcome.” Hawaii has been known as such since the 1959 legislative act.
  • Pineapple State: Due to a large pineapple industry which has majorly supported Hawaii’s economy as the main
  • Youngest State: Hawaii was the last state to join the union in 1959.
  • Paradise of the Pacific: An apt term is referring to Hawaii’s beautiful beaches, vegetation, and
  • Crossroads of the Pacific: Shippers gave this nickname to Hawaii due to its location in the Pacific Ocean between Asia and the Americas.
  • Rainbow State: Because of the humidity and changing weather patterns, Hawaii is famous for its rainbows.
  • Oahu – The Gathering Place
  • Hawaii – The Big Island
  • Maui – The Valley Isle
  • Kauai – The Garden Isle
  • Molokai – The Friendly Isle
  • Lanai – The Private Isle (was the Pineapple Isle)
  • Niihau – The Forbidden Isle
  • Kahoolawe – The Target Isle

Idaho Nicknames

Idaho nicknames

  • The Gem State: After the 1863 purchase of the Idaho Territory, this name was given due to a mistranslation of a Shoshone word that meant “Gem of the Mountains.” Despite this, it continues to be Idaho’s official nickname.
  • Gem of the Mountains: Perhaps another reference to the mistranslated Shoshone word. Or, it could be due to the copious amount of gold, silver, lead, zinc, cobalt, and copper found in the stratum of Idaho soil. Other precious minerals in Idado include star garnets, opal, topaz, jade, zircon, and
  • Land of Famous Potatoes: Idaho is well-known for its large potato export.
  • Spud State: Another name for “potato.”

Illinois Nicknames

Illinois nicknames

  • The Prairie State: Every September, Illinois celebrates Prairie Week to help preserve and reestablish its dwindling prairie land. Illinois adopted this official nickname in 1842.
  • Corn State: The Midwestern region is famous for its sweeping fields of corn. Illinois relies on its corn crop to support the economy.
  • Inland Empire: Because of its landlocked geography, Illinois was called the “Inland Empire,” an effort to draw more settlers to the region.
  • Rainy State: Large amounts of rainfall are common to Illinois and is responsible for the largely agricultural economy.
  • Sucker State: Named for the “suckerfish” which is common in Illinois waters. Incidentally, this is where we get the slang term “sucker” for someone who is easily duped.
  • Garden of the West: Because of its prairies and agriculture of corn and soybeans, this became an unofficial term to encourage farmers to settle the land.
  • Garden State: Another nickname in reference to its fertile soil. This was later taken by New Jersey.

Indiana Nicknames

Indiana state nicknames

  • Hoosier State: Made official in January of 1833, “Hoosier” is an interesting and storied term. At one time, it applied to any person rough enough to settle or roam the Wild Wet. Later, it was a derisive term given to anyone from Indiana. It seems to have first appeared in 1826, and one of the more popular theories says that an early settler would hear a knock on the door and yell: “Who’s yere?”
  • Crossroads of America: Due to its location in the center of the United States, one must cross through Illinois to get from the East to the West coast.
  • Hospitality State: Given to Indianians because of their tradition of hospitality whenever guests or tourists come to visit.

Iowa Nicknames

iowa nicknames

  • The Hawkeye State: Suggested by James G. Edwards early on in Iowa’s statehood, this nickname is a tribute to American Indian, Chief Black Hawk.
  • Tall Corn State: As part of the “Corn Belt,” Iowa boasts fields of corn as far as the eye can see.

Kansas Nicknames

Kansas nicknames

  • Sunflower State: Fields upon fields of sunflowers blanket the countryside of Kansas. It is the state flower and emblem of Kansas.
  • Wheat State: Wheat is one of Kansas’ cash crops and leads the nation’s agricultural production.
  • Cyclone State: Due to its flat landscape, Kansas is prone to tornadoes, or cyclones. It is situated it what is known as “Tornado Alley.”
  • Midway, USA: Because of its location in the middle of the United States, Kansas was given this rhyming moniker.
  • The Central State: Another name that indicates Kansas’ location in the middle of America.
  • Jayhawk State: Abolitionists in the time of slavery were once called “Jayhawkers.” There were many who wanted Kansas to join the union during the Civil War. Thus the state became known as such.
  • The Grasshopper State: Due to the 1974 Grasshopper, or Rocky Mountain Locust, Plague, the lush crops and prairie grasses of Kansas were decimated.
  • Garden of the West: Alludes to the fertile soil.
  • The Squatter State: When Kansas was new, many of the arriving settlers were from the slave state of Missouri. They gained the term “squatters” referring to someone to who lives on land they do not own.
  • Bleeding Kansas: Refers to bloody battles between anti- and pro-slavery peoples of Kansas and Missouri between 1854 and 1858. “Bleeding Kanas” was coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, who incidentally is also famous for writing: “Go West, young man!”
  • The Battleground of Freedom: Another allusion to the anti-slavery battles fought on Kansas soil.

Kentucky Nicknames

Kentucky state nicknames

  • Bluegrass State: Though Bluegrass is not exactly blue in color, it does have a purplish, bluish haze when the buds form in spring. Early settlers would ask for the “Bluegrass” seed that grew from Kentucky’s soil rich in limestone.
  • Tobacco State: Kentucky once grew two-thirds of the nation’s tobacco, thus earning the nickname.
  • Hemp State: Another large Kentucky-based crop is hemp, and it was once a cornerstone of the state’s agricultural exports.
  • Rock-Ribbed State: “Rock-ribbed” refers to the firm and unyielding character traits that are believed to belong to Kentuckians.
  • Dark and Bloody Ground: Daniel Boone reported that an Indian chief had described the land after a battle between whites and a concerted force of American Indian tribes along the Cumberland River.
  • Corn-cracker State: This term may refer to poverty-stricken people of Kentucky that resided in the more mountainous region. It may also refer to a kind of crane that walked along the brittle cornfields and made “cracking” sounds.

Louisiana Nicknames

Louisiana nicknames

  • The Pelican State: Louisiana’s state bird in the brown pelican.
  • Bayou State: A “bayou” is a smaller river that feeds into a larger body of water. It is often swampy, still and likely fetid. Many of this bayou vein the more southern regions of Louisiana.
  • Child of the Mississippi: Because of the silt build-up from the Mississippi River, Louisiana owes its landmass to that process.
  • The Creole State: The French and Spanish settled Louisiana, and this heritage is called “Creole.”
  • The Mardi Gras State: Mardi Gras is traditionally a French annual festival; Louisiana adopted it and turned it into a world-class event in New Orleans.
  • The Cajun State: Another ethnic group that settled Louisiana, Cajuns are Acadian exiles from the French Maritimes.
  • Cajun Country
  • Jazz capital of the US: Lauded as the birthplace of Jazz, Louisiana celebrate the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival.
  • Sportsman’s Paradise: Due to the draw of hunting, trapping, fishing, and other outdoor sports, Louisiana gained this nickname.
  • Fisherman’s Paradise
  • The Holland of America: This nickname is derived from the large number of waterways and the trucking industry, both of which are attributes of Holland.
  • Sugar State: Louisiana boasts a large yield of sugar cane and thus supports a booming sugar refinery industry.

Maine Nicknames

Maine state nicknames

  • The Pine Tree State: With over 17 million acres of pine trees, the White Pine used to heavily farmed to make ship masts in the early days of colonization.
  • The Lumber State: The lumber industry dominates Maine’s economy. Today, about 86% of the forest has been cut down. Maine is also home to the largest paper mills in the country.
  • Border State: Maine shares a border with Canada.
  • Old Dirigo State: Maine’s state motto is Dirigo, meaning “I direct” or “I guide.”
  • Vacationland: Because of the appeal of Maine’s beautiful mountains and forests, this nickname appeared on state license plates.
  • The Switzerland of America: This is a comparison with Maine’s landscape with Switzerland’s beautiful mountains and valleys.
  • Down East: Ships sailing from Boston would sail downwind, to the east. This principle stuck around, and many Mainers describe going “up” to Boston when the city actually sits about 50 miles to the south.
  • The Polar Star State: Maine, excluding Alaska, is the northernmost state in the U.S.

Maryland Nicknames

Maryland nicknames

  • The Old Line State: This nickname is attributed to George Washington when he referred to the regular line of troops, or The Maryland line, whose 400 soldiers fought 10,000 British soldiers during the Revolutionary War which enable Washington’s forces to escape.
  • America in Miniature: Because of the many different topographies in shape of its borders, Maryland got this nickname in reference to the variety of topographies in the whole of the U.S.
  • Free State: Georgia Congressman, William D. Upshaw, condemned Maryland as a traitor to the Union for refusing to uphold a `923 State enforcement act in favor of prohibition. Hamilton Owens of the Baltimore Sun then wrote a series of satirical articles called, “The Maryland Free State” which argued that Maryland should secede from the union rather than support Prohibition.
  • Cockade State: The Old Liner Maryland soldiers wore .”..brilliant cockades” during the Revolutionary War. Cockades were shiny ornaments worn on hats.
  • Monumental State: Appeared in 1843 in reference to Baltimore being called the “Monumental City.”
  • Terrapin State: Name of Diamondback turtle endemic to state.
  • Chesapeake State: The Chesapeake Bay runs along most of Maryland’s coast.
  • Oyster State: The Chesapeake is famous for its plethora of oysters and is a great pride of the state.

Massachusetts Nicknames

Massachusetts nicknames

  • The Bay State: Refers to the colony along the Massachusetts Bay, which was founded in 1628.
  • Old Bay State: Another allusion to the Massachusetts colony along the Bay. It’s also referred to as “Old Bay State” or “Bay State.”
  • Old Colony: References the Plymouth colony which settled Massachusetts. First appeared in 1798.
  • Pilgrim State: The first settlers of the area were called Pilgrims because they had journeyed far from England.
  • Puritan State: The Pilgrims were largely Protestant religious separatists from England, called Puritans.
  • Baked Bean State: Legend has it that the Puritans would often serve baked beans on Sundays.
  • The Spirit of America: Because of its Pilgrim heritage, of settling new lands, this nickname was chosen. But, it was deemed too long to fit on a license plate.
  • The Codfish State: Codfish often provided the early settler with food, fertilizer, and products for trade with American Indians.

Michigan Nicknames

Michigan nicknames

  • The Great Lakes State: Michigan’s border touches four of the five Great Lakes. Additionally, Michigan boasts around 11,000 inland lakes. From 1969-75 and 1977-19883, “Great Lake State” appeared on Michigan license plates. In order to avoid conflict with other states that border the Great Lakes, sometimes the nicknames “Lady of the Lake” and “Water Wonderland” were used.
  • Wolverine State: This is a strange nickname as there’s little evidence that Michigan ever support a large population of wolverines. There are two prevailing stories: Some believe that Ohio gave Michigan this name when, during a land dispute, they described Michigan as “vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines.” Others believe that the Native Americans compared early settlers to wolverines because they were greedy for food.
  • The Peninsula State: In a way, Michigan is a kind of peninsular, as it’s bordered by the Great Lakes.
  • Lake State: Another reference to the many great lakes in the region.
  • Lady of the Lake
  • Water Wonderland
  • Auto State: Detroit used to house the nation’s leading automobile industry.
  • Mitten State: Despite Michigan winters being so cold you need to wear mittens, the shape of the state also resembles a mitten.

Minnesota Nicknames

Minnesota nicknames

  • The North Star State: Minnesota’s first governor, Henry Hastings Sibley, plucked this nickname from the French phrase: L’oile du Nord, which translates to “the star of the north.”
  • Land of 10,000 Lakes: Minnesota houses more than 12,000 lakes.
  • Gopher State: Gophers are a type of ground squirrel common to Minnesota. This nickname appeared in 1880 and even served as the mascot for the Minnesota State University football team until Arkansas tried to lay claim 35 years later.
  • Bread and Butter State: Minnesota produces large amounts of wheat and dairy products. This name appears at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, in 1902.
  • Bread Basket of the Nation
  • Cream Pitcher of the Nation
  • Wheat State
  • New England of the West: There were a lot of emigrants from New England that settled Minnesota.

Mississippi Nicknames

Mississippi nicknames

  • The Magnolia State: The Magnolia flowers and trees are common in Mississippi, and it eventually became both the state flower and state tree.
  • Bayou State: Like Louisiana, Mississippi terrain supports many bayous.
  • Eagle State: The eagle, long considered to be a symbol of freedom, appears on the state coats of arms around 1846.
  • Border-Eagle State: An elongation of “Eagle State.”
  • Mud-cat State: “Mud-cat” refers to catfish, which are prevalent in the Mississippi River. This nickname first appeared in 1872.
  • Mud-Waddler State: Another name for catfish.
  • Hospitality State: Mississippi is famous for treating visitors like family.
  • Groundhog State: Given because of the supposed prevalence of groundhogs. Though, no evidence is found except for a reference in John Goff’s 1892 Book of Nicknames.

Missouri Nicknames

Missouri state nicknames

  • The Show Me State: Many stories support the history of Missouri’s nickname as the “Show Me” State. The most popular story details Missouri’s Congressman, Willard Duncan Vandiver, who once said during a naval banquet in Philadelphia that “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frother eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”
  • Bullion State: Thomas Hart Benton, an advocate of hard money, is attributed this nickname by being elected for five terms to the Senate, making him the first man to serve 30 years. Because of his opposition to paper money, monopolies and “eastern capitalists,” he was known as “Old Bullion.”
  • Iron Mountain State: Comes from Iron Mountain which had large deposits of iron ore.
  • Lead State: Missouri is located in the “Old Lead Belt” and has historically been the largest of the lead mining industry.
  • Puke State: Though disgusting, this name came from a gathering of Missourians in 1927 at the Galena Lead Mines. According to Dr. George Earlie Shankle, .” many Missourians had assembled, that those already there declared the State of Missouri had taken a ‘puke’.”
  • Ozark State: Due to the Ozark Mountain range.
  • Pennsylvania of the West: Because of the similarities of its mining and manufacturing, Missouri was compared to Pennsylvania’s economy.
  • Mother of the West: Refers to its location as a base for westward expansion. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trail, the Pony Express, and Butterfield Overland Mail Route all originated in Missouri.

Montana Nicknames

Montana nicknames

  • The Treasure State: Rich in gold and silver deposits, Montana became known for its mining towns.
  • Big Sky Country: A highway worker read the book, The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, and got permission for Montana to use this as a nickname. It refers to the wide open land and the great expanse of sky above it.
  • Bonanza State: This nickname references Montana’s mineral wealth.
  • Land of Shining Mountains: This name came from early fur trappers in the area.
  • The Last Best Place: Montana native writer, William Kittredge, is generally believed to have coined the nickname. But, wildlife biologist Douglas Chadwick, in an argument against oil and gas exploration, wrote: “I managed to envision industrializing the Bob Marshall Wilderness. But I couldn’t accept it. Not here. Not in the last, best place.”
  • Stub-Toe State: Because of Montana’s steep mountainous terrain, it’s easy to stub your toe.
  • Headwaters State: Much of the water that flows to the rest of the nation comes from the mountains of Montana.
  • Mountain State

Nebraska Nicknames

Nebraska nicknames

  • The Cornhusker State: This nickname is derived from a method of peeling corn by hand.
  • Tree Planters’ State: Nebraska is also named the “Tree Planter’s State” by founding Arbor Day in 1872. Historically, settlers planted millions of trees as woodlots, orchards, and
  • Antelope State: Pronghorn antelopes are common in Nebraska.
  • Bug-eating State: Bullbats are insect-eating and are very common to Nebraska. This was also a slur used for poor people as well.
  • Beef State: Appeared on license plates because of the large amount of cattle beef farms.
  • Black Water State: Many of the rivers are dark in color; this name appeared in1916.
  • Squatters: Coined in a July 21, 1860, issue of the Omaha Weekly Nebraskian.

Nevada Nicknames

Nevada state nicknames

  • The Silver State: Comes from the large amount of silver deposits in Nevada. The nickname has been found as early as 1863.
  • Mining State
  • Silverland
  • Sagebrush State: Refers to the prevalence of wild sage which grows there.
  • Sage State
  • The Sage-Hen State: The sage-hen or grouse is common to the west, and many of them exist in Nevada.
  • Sierra Nevada Territory: The dominating mountain range in Nevada.
  • Sierra Plata
  • Washoe Territory: The part of the Utah Territory, which included Nevada, the area was known as Washoe after the tribe of Native Americans who lived there.
  • Carson Territory: Refers to Carson City.
  • Eastern Slope: Nevada sits on the eastern slope watershed of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • Humboldt: Humboldt is a range of mountains running through northwestern Nevada.
  • Esmeralda: Esmeralda is the Spanish word for “emerald.” James Manning Cory, an early miner, dubbed the county east of the Mason Valley “Esmeralda” after the gypsy dancer in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Oro Plata: Stair steps cut into the mountain used to be carved out by Mexican laborers. They would chant: “Oro, Plata, Mata,” or “Gold, silver, death.”

New Hampshire Nicknames

New Hampshire nicknames

  • The Granite State: There are many granite mines in New Hampshire. First presented as “The Granite State” in 1830, the name has stuck around.
  • Queen State: Because of the beauty of the landscape, hard spirit, and by motherhood of some world leaders, New Hampshire is certainly Queen.
  • White Mountain State: The range of mountains that runs through northern New Hampshire. Often compared to the Swiss Alps.
  • Switzerland of America
  • Mother of Rivers: This nickname is derived from the river that flows down from the White Mountains.

New Jersey Nicknames

New Jersey nicknames

  • The Garden State: Originally named so by Abraham Browning at the Centennial Exhibition of 1972, ‘garden’ refers to New Jersey’s fertile soil and largely agricultural economy.
  • Clam State: There are many clam fisheries along the Atlantic coast.
  • Camden State: Named for the “Camden and Amboy Railroad,” which also gave the name to Camden, a city across the river from Philadelphia.
  • Camden and Amboy State
  • Amboy State
  • Jersey Blue State: During the Civil War, soldiers wore blue uniforms or jerseys.
  • Pathway of the Revolution: Many of the Revolutionary War battles were fought on New Jersey soil.
  • Mosquito State: The 1880s brought a plague of mosquitoes which originated in the marshes of New Jersey.
  • Switzerland of America: One of five other states to be referred to as such.

New Mexico Nicknames

New Mexico nicknames

  • The Land of Enchantment: Due to the fact that New Mexico receives about seventy percent sunshine year-round, this state was first coined “The Sunshine State.” But, Florida laid claim to this name instead. Thus, New Mexico became known as an “enchanter” by its rich and varied landscapes of desert, mountains, and
  • Otro: A Spanish word that possible meant “Mexico.”
  • New Andalusia: Named after the southern region of Spain known for its blending of culture and beauty.
  • Cactus State: Cacti, a desert-dwelling plant, grows copiously in New Mexico, particularly along the southern border.
  • Land of the Cactus
  • The Colorful State: The different types of rock sediment is very colorful. New Mexico shares this nickname with Colorado.
  • The Spanish State: Because it borders Mexico, its cultural background is steeped in Spanish tradition, and it boasts a large population of Spanish-speaking people.
  • Land of Sunshine: Appeared on license plates before 1941.
  • The Sunshine State
  • The Land of the Delight Makers: Offered as a suggestion by George Wharton from Adolf Bandelier’s book, The Delight Makers. It was thought to highlight New Mexico’s influence on art and literature.
  • The Land of Opportunity: Because of its natural beauty and free land, New Mexico hoped to fulfill the hope and aspirations of its settlers.
  • The Land of the Heart’s Desire
  • The Outer Space State: This nickname is in reference to the Roswell incident during which a UFO allegedly crashed in the desert near the town of Roswell.

New York Nicknames

New York state nicknames

  • The Empire State: Beginning with George Washington’s reference to New York being the “the seat of the Empire,” New York officialized this nickname in 1820. Another story follows Henry Hudson, who when sailing into New York Harbor, exclaimed that this was the “New Empire.”
  • Excelsior State: New York’s state motto, meaning “ever upward.”
  • Knickerbocker State: Named so after the kind of breeches worn by early Dutch emigrants.
  • Gateway to the West: Due to the immigrant port on Ellis Island, immigrants would have to go through New York City to register and settle in America.

North Carolina Nicknames

North Carolina nicknames

  • The Tar Heel State: The staples of North Carolina’s economy were tar, pitch, and turpentine. In 1862, when the term “tar-heel” first appeared, it was derogatory in nature. During the Civil War, a legendary conversation occurred between a regiment that stuck out a losing battle on their own. A column relates the following: Someone asked the regiment: ‘”Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?” Quick as a flash came the answer: “No, not a bit, old Jeff’s bought it all up.” “Is that so; what is he going to do with it?” was asked. “He’s going to put on you-un’s heels to make you stick better in the next fight.” Creecy relates that General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: “God bless the Tar Heel boys.”’
  • The Old North State: When the whole of Carolina, as designated by King Charles I, was divided the northern, or older region, contributed to this nickname.
  • Turpentine State: Large quantities of turpentine were produced due to the volume of pine forests.
  • First in Flight: The pioneers of flight, the Wright Brothers, launched their first successful airplane in North Carolina. Since “First in Flight” and “first in Freedom” appears on state license plates.
  • First in Freedom
  • Land of the Sky: From Frances Fisher Tieran’s book, The Land of Sky, this nickname references the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains. This name also appears in the state toast: “Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great, in the land of sky, in the Old North State!”
  • The Rip Van Winkle State: No obvious reason for this nickname exists, except for the comparison between the mountains of North Carolina to the Catskills of New York which is home to the Rip Van Winkle legend, as penned by Washington Irving.

North Dakota Nicknames

North Dakota nicknames

  • The Peace Garden State: On its own initiative the North Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles had the words “peace garden state” placed on license plates. It was so popular that the nickname was officially adopted in 1957.
  • Flickertail State: “Flickertails” refer to squirrels in North Dakota. It is characteristic of squirrels to flick their tails to ward off predators or to balance on a tree limb.
  • Roughrider State: The first U.S. Cavalry in the Spanish-American War was made up of several North Dakotans, and they were called the Roughriders. This nickname emerged in the 1960s as part of a tourism initiative.
  • Sioux State: Refers to the Sioux tribe which once dominated the region.
  • Dakota: Originally a Sioux word, the state attempted to drop “north” from its name.
  • Land of the Dakotas
  • The Great Central State: Named so for its location near the Great Wheat Belt.

Ohio Nicknames

Ohio state nicknames

  • The Buckeye State: Named for the for the buckeye trees that grow over Ohio’s landscape.
  • Mother of Modern Presidents: As many as seven U.S. presidents were born and raised in Ohio: Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, and William Henry Harrison.
  • Yankee State: Ohio got this nicknames because of the number of settlers that came from New England.

Oklahoma Nicknames

Oklahoma state nicknames

  • The Sooner State: In 1889 when the territory opened up, settlers rushed in early to lay claim to the land. Thus, the name “sooner” stuck.
  • Boomer’s Paradise: Some settlers waited for the boom of the cannon which signaled the start of the Land Run of 1889. They began known as “boomers.”
  • Land of the Red Man: “Oklahoma” is based on a Choctaw phrase — okla and humma— meaning “land of the red man.”

Oregon Nicknames

Oregon nicknames

  • The Beaver State: The beaver is the state animal of Oregon. At a time the beaver was almost entirely wiped out by trappers but the state legislature issued a protection, and thus the beaver returned to Oregon waters.
  • Webfoot State: Because it rains so much, Oregonians are said to develop webbed feet for swimming.
  • Hard-case State: The Pioneers who settled the west faced harsh conditions.
  • Union State: Once the state motto.
  • The Sunset State: Once called such because it was the most westerly of all states until Washington joined.

Pennsylvania Nicknames

Pennsylvania state nicknames

  • The Keystone State: “Keystone” refers to the central, wedge-shaped stone that holds the structure of an arch. This nickname was accepted soon after 1800. During a Jefferson Republican rally, the newspaper Aurora toasted Pennsylvania as the “keystone in the federal union.”
  • Quaker State: Pennsylvania is home to a large population of religious Quakers.
  • The Commonwealth: Pennsylvania is, in fact, not a state but a commonwealth, a title it shares with Massachusetts, Virginia, and The term refers to the well-being of the people. Now, state and commonwealth are used interchangeably.
  • Independence State: The Declaration of Independence was drawn up and signed in Philadelphia. Thus, it is critical to America’s independence from Britain.
  • The Oil State: Oil is one of Pennsylvania’s greatest industries.
  • Coal State: Coal used to be one of Pennsylvania’s greatest industries.
  • Steel State: Steel was one of Pennsylvania’s greatest industries until its recent collapse.

Rhode Island Nicknames

Rhode Island state nicknames

  • The Ocean State: Rhode Island has over 400 miles of coastline, and the nickname is used to encourage beach tourists.
  • Plantation State: The state’s official name was once The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
  • Little Rhody: A play on Rhode Island’s small size.
  • The Smallest State
  • Land of Roger Williams: Roger Williams founded Rhode Island in 1636.
  • The Southern Gateway of New England: Rhode Island is the southernmost state in New England. Many harbors are suitable for ocean-bound ships and so must pass through this state to get to the rest of New England.

South Carolina Nicknames

South Carolina nicknames

  • The Palmetto State: The palmetto palm grows well in South Carolina. Additionally, there is also a battle of the same title in the Revolutionary War.
  • Rice State: Rice is produced in South Carolina due to its marshy land.
  • Iodine State: High levels of iodine is found in native plants. During the 1920s, this state promoted fruits and vegetable grown here for its high iodine properties and its nutritional value. Even moonshiners advertised this corn-based liquor as having an excellent source of iodine. Then, in the 1940s, the nutritional properties of iodine were downplayed, and the state lost this nickname.
  • Keystone of the South Atlantic Seaboard: This name, like Pennsylvania, is due to South Carolina’s wedge shape like that of a keystone.
  • Swamp State: There are a lot of swamps and marshes here, perfect for growing rice.
  • Sand-lapper State: Originally, this was a terrible name given to poor people who lived on the sandy ridges. It was said that they ate sand to keep alive.

South Dakota Nicknames

South Dakota nicknames

  • Mount Rushmore State: Mount Rushmore is a massive sculpture carved into the Black Hills. It features presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Designed by sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, the structure boast 60-foot faces overlooking the beautiful, but rugged South Dakota landscape. Mount Rushmore is South Dakota’s claim to fame.
  • Sunshine State: This was the state motto until Florida claimed it in 1980.
  • Coyote State: From the prairie wolf, this name derives from the Nahuatl word “coyotl.”
  • Blizzard State: South Dakota often faces severe winter snow storms and garnered itself this unfortunate nickname.
  • Artesian State: Named for the many artesian wells in the state.
  • Land of Infinite Variety: The state pledge as printed on the flag is: “I pledge loyalty and support to the flag and to the state of South Dakota, land of sunshine, land of infinite variety.
  • Land of Plenty: With over 400 acres to support every family, South Dakota has ‘plenty’ to offer even current emigrants.

Tennessee Nicknames

Tennessee nicknames

  • The Volunteer State: During the War of 1812, thousands of people from Tennessee enlisted as volunteers.
  • Big Bend State: A name derived from the Native American name for the Tennessee River.
  • The River with the Big Bend
  • Mother of Southwestern Statesmen: Three US presidents were born and raised in Tennessee.
  • Hog State: There are many wild hogs, but production of pig products was booming between 1830 till 1840.
  • Hominy State: Hominy refers to corn products which were a major production of Tennessee.
  • Butternuts: Tennessee soldiers wore tan uniforms, or the color of butternut squash, during the Civil War.

Texas Nicknames

Texas Nicknames

  • The Lone Star State: One star was a symbol of the 1819 Long Expedition, the Austin Colony in 1821, and many flags for the early Republic of Texas. The Lone Star has been a symbol for Texas since its origins as an independent state. Now, people associate that lone star with a spirit of resilience, fight, and independence.
  • Beef State: Its huge cattle “industry” led it to be known as such.
  • Jumbo State: We’ve all heard the idiom, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Well, it comes from an 1882 circus for which P.T. Barnum brought the largest African elephant named “Jumbo.” The elephant eventually came to symbolize everything that was large in Texas.
  • Super-American State: If those ten-gallon hats and cowboy charm are not a symbol of America, nothing else is. The New Yorker coined Texas as such in a 1961 issue.
  • Banner State: This nickname comes from Texas’ considerable political influence. Of Texas, Charles Ledyard Norton wrote: “The state, county, town or other political sub-division that give the largest vote for a party candidate is termed ‘the banner state.’”
  • Blizzard State: Sharing this name with South Dakota, Texas is often subject to wind storms.

Utah Nicknames

Utah State nicknames

  • The Beehive State: The beehive, which is featured on the state flag, has come to symbolize “thrift and perseverance.” As a largely Mormon state, these values are important, so it became the official nickname in March of 1959.
  • Mormon State: Utah has a large population of Mormons, who first settled the state in the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Land of the Mormons
  • Land of the Saints: This comes from the official name of the Mormon religion.
  • Salt Lake State: The largest city in Utah is situated next to a Great Salt Lake; it’s called Salt Lake City.

Vermont Nicknames

Vermont Nicknames

  • The Green Mountain State: This name derives from the French words “vert” meaning green and “mont” meaning mountain. It was first suggested by Dr. Thomas Young.

Virginia Nicknames

Virginia Nicknames

  • The Old Dominion State: Originating in Colonial times, this nickname first appeared in 1778. King Charles II added the old Virginia territory to his dominions of Ireland, Scotland, and France.
  • Ancient Dominion
  • Mother of States: Virginia was the first state to be colonized, and many states actually were carved from the original territory including West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and even part of Minnesota.
  • Mother of Presidents: Virginia bred a whopping twelve US Presidents.
  • Mother of Statesmen: Many government officials also came from this state.
  • Cavalier State: Due to early settlers remaining loyal to England’s King Charles I.

Washington Nicknames

Washington Nicknames

  • The Evergreen State: Given by CT Conover, a realtor, and historian, for Washington’s abundant forests of evergreens.
  • Chinook State: Chinook Indians were native to this area.
  • The Green Tree State: Due to the vast conifer forests in Washington.

West Virginia Nicknames

West Virginia Nicknames

  • The Mountain State: The Appalachian mountain range dominates most of West Virginia and lends much of the culture to its people.
  • Switzerland of America: The Appalachian Mountains were compared to the Swiss Alps.
  • Panhandle State: The shape of West Virginia is governed by the contours of it mountainous land and thus forms two long, narrow extensions which is similar to the handle of a pan.

Wisconsin Nicknames

Wisconsin Nicknames

  • The Badger State: Lead miners flocked to Wisconsin and dug many holes in the ground, much like a badger does. The badger is also Wisconsin’s state animal.
  • Dairy State: Wisconsin is most known for its dairy farms, which produce world-renowned cheese and butter.
  • America’s Dairyland
  • America’s Bread Basket: Due to the wheat
  • Cheese State: Wisconsin is famous for its cheese and dairy farms.
  • The Copper State: There are many copper mines in the northern part of Wisconsin.

Wyoming Nicknames

  • The Equality State: Women were granted the right to vote first in 1869 sp there would be enough citizens to meet the population requirement for statehood.
  • The Suffrage State: Before it was known as “The Equality State,” it had this nickname which refers to the women’s suffrage movement.
  • The Sagebrush State: A lot of wild sage grows in Wyoming.
  • The Cowboy State: A cowboy on a bucking bronco appears on the state quarter.
  • Big Wyoming: In landmass, Wyoming is the 10th largest state in America.
  • Park State: There are 12 state parks, 2 national parks, 5 national forests, 1 national historic landmark, 1 national historic site, 4 national wildlife refuges, and 2 national recreation areas in the state of Wyoming.

As we can see, there are many official and unofficial nicknames for all fifty of the United States. If we missed some, let us know! Leave a comment below and tell us the strange or historically significant nicknames for your state.

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