A Complete List of U.S. State Nicknames

Besides having a motto, a seal, and a flag, each state of the United States also has several nicknames. Some of these are official, whereas some are a part of local parlance. Buzzle gives you a complete list of U.S. State nicknames.
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U.S. state nicknames - Kansas and Louisiana
Will there be a Jefferson state?

With the effort of dividing the state of California into 6 separate states moving towards a vote, one wonders if the long-conceived plan of creating the Jefferson state will ever come to fruition. And if it does, the Jeffersonians already have a nickname ready―they wish to call it State of Mind.
Each state in the United States has had several nicknames over the years. These names were mostly derived from local culture, and they reflected the state's history, economic affairs, and natural resources.

Some of these names are funny, whereas others are a bit infamous―and therefore obsolete. Take a look at them, and be amused as you read the explanation behind their origin.

List of U.S. State Nicknames

Along with the currently used nicknames, we've also included some of the older ones―most of these are used informally or on license plates.
Alabama
The Yellowhammer State

Alabama is the only state not to have an official nickname. Off the records, it is called The Yellowhammer State. The name dates back to the days of the American Civil War, when a group of soldiers from the state wore uniforms with yellow trimmings and were nicknamed Yellowhammers. It is also a reference to the yellowhammer bird, a name given to the Northern Flicker woodpecker, which is the state bird of Alabama.

Other names
  • The Cotton State
  • Heart of Dixie
Alaska
The Last Frontier

With a seemingly endless expanse of land, Alaska is rightfully called The Last Frontier. The state is the largest in the United States in terms of area, much of which remains unexplored. Alaska is often viewed to be the last frontier by those wishing to create a new life or begin a new business.

Other names
  • Land of the Midnight Sun
  • Seward's Folly
Arizona
The Grand Canyon State

There is really no need to explain the nickname in case of Arizona; the state is home to the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon. In fact, the Grand Canyon National Park is among the oldest national parks in the country.

Other names
  • The Copper State
  • Aztec State
  • Apache State
  • Sunset State
Arkansas
The Natural State

Going with the abundant natural beauty of Arkansas, it is rightfully nicknamed The Natural State. The Buffalo River, located in the northern part of the state, was the first National River to be designated in the United States. The clear lakes, streams, and plenteous wildlife contribute to the state's unrivaled scenic beauty.

Other names
  • The Land of Opportunity
  • Bear State
  • Hot Springs State
  • Bowie State
California
The Golden State

The California Gold Rush of 1848, the lush fields of golden poppies, the remarkable Golden Gate bridge, and the gorgeous golden sunsets over the Pacific―California is America's Golden State.

Other names
  • The Eureka State
Colorado
The Centennial State

Colorado's nickname The Centennial State takes inspiration from its history. Colorado became the 38th state of the United States in 1876―precisely a hundred years from the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Other names
  • Colorful Colorado
  • Columbine State
Connecticut
The Constitution State

The official nickname of Connecticut was officially coined by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1959. The belief goes that the ideas used for drafting the Constitution of the United States were drawn from the first constitution of Connecticut.

Other names
  • The Freestone State
Delaware
The First State

On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, earning the nickname, The First State.

Other names
  • The Small Wonder
  • Blue Hen State
  • The Diamond State
Florida
The Sunshine State

Florida's nickname is The Sunshine State, adopted officially by Florida legislature in 1970. The name seems perfect for a state that has the best beaches in the country, with warm, tropical weather all year round.

Other names
  • The Gulf State
  • The Orange State
Georgia
The Peach State

The nickname for Georgia comes from its home-grown peaches, known for their superior flavor, succulent texture, and nutritious qualities. Peaches are the official state fruit of Georgia since 1995.

Other names
  • Empire State of the South
  • The Goober State
Hawaii
The Aloha State

'Aloha' is a much-favored greeting in Hawaiian, and is used to welcome those who come here. Going with the famed hospitality of the Hawaiians, The Aloha State seems a very welcoming nickname.

Other names
  • The Paradise of the Pacific
  • The Islands of Aloha
Idaho
The Gem State

The beautiful mountains of Idaho are blessed with the veritable presence of gold, silver, lead, zinc, cobalt, copper, and several other rare minerals. In addition to this, one can also find star garnets (which is the state gem), jasper, opal, jade, topaz, zircon, and tourmaline, which gives it the nickname.

Other names
  • The Gem of the Mountains
  • Little Ida
Illinois
The Prairie State

The nickname for Illinois is The Prairie State, a nod to the North American prairie. Currently, the region is one of the most endangered ecosystems on Earth, and the state is taking ample measures to preserve this natural resource.

Other names
  • Land of Lincoln
Indiana
The Hoosier State

The word Hoosier is derived from the history of Indiana and sadly, its original meaning has been lost in translation. Historians and folklorists have one too many colorful theories describing its origin, none of which is conclusive.

Other names
  • Crossroads of America
Iowa
The Hawkeye State

Iowa's nickname, The Hawkeye State is a tribute to chief Black Hawk, leader of the Sauk Indians.

Other names
  • Land of the Rolling Prairie
  • Tall Corn State
Kansas
The Sunflower State

The sunflower is all over Kansas―it is the official flower of the state, it appears on the flag, as well as the Kansas state quarter.

Other names
  • Wheat State
  • America's Bread Basket
Kentucky
The Bluegrass State

Bluegrass is commonly found in many of the lawns and pastures throughout the state of Kentucky, resulting in the nickname.

Other names
  • Hemp State
Louisiana
The Pelican State

The brown pelican is an important treasure of Louisiana. It is the state bird, appearing on Louisiana's state flag, great seal, the official state painting, along with many other icons of Louisiana.

Other names
  • The Bayou State
  • Sportsman's Paradise
Maine
The Pine Tree State

The state of Maine also uses its most famous icon, the Eastern white pine to be used as a nickname. The state's official tree is also featured on the state flag and state seal.

Other names
  • Vacationland
  • The Lumber State
Maryland
The Old Line State

According to a few historical accounts, it was General George Washington who bestowed the name "Old Line State" on Maryland. This was done to honor the troops (the Maryland Line) who fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War.

Other names
  • Free State
  • America in Miniature
Massachusetts
The Bay State

Massachusetts is also known as "The Spirit of America" or even "The Old Bay State" in reference to the Cape Cod Bay where early settlements were made.

Other names
  • The Old Colony State
  • The Codfish State
Michigan
The Great Lakes State

The state of Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, along with Lake Saint Clair. The state has numerous ponds and lakes, which means that a person is never too far away from a natural water source in Michigan.

Other names
  • The Wolverine State
  • The Mitten State
  • Winter Water Wonderland
Minnesota
The North Star State

Minnesota's nickname is derived from its French motto, L'√Čtoile du Nord, which translates to 'The Star of the North'.

Other names
  • Land of 10,000 Lakes
  • Gopher State
  • The Bread and Butter State
Mississippi
The Magnolia State

Magnolia is the official state flower of Mississippi, and also features on the state quarter.

Other names
  • The Hospitality State
  • The Birthplace of America's Music
  • The South's Warmest Welcome
Missouri
The Show-Me State

The Missourians' "stalwart, conservative, noncredulous" attitude toward regulatory regimes, is understood to be the origin of the state's rather unusual nickname, The Show-Me State.

Other names
  • The Bullion State
  • The Cave State
Montana
The Treasure State

The official nickname for Montana, The Treasure State comes from its abundant mineral reserves. The mountains of Montana have yielded fortunes in gold and silver ever since the 17th century, when the first substantial deposits were discovered.

Other names
  • Big Sky Country
Nebraska
The Cornhusker State

The Cornhusker is a tribute to the rugged, strong-willed Nebraska farmers underwent a lot of hardship to transform the desert into ranches and farms, and made the state into the agricultural superpower it is today.

Other names
  • The Beef State
  • The Tree Planter's State
Nevada
The Silver State

The nickname for Nevada, The Silver State, comes from the times of the silver rush days of the mid 1800's, when the precious metal was literally shoveled off the ground.
Other names
  • The Sagebrush State
  • The Battle Born State
New Hampshire
The Granite State

Granite, being the official state rock of New Hampshire, also doubles up as an apt nickname for the State.

Other names
  • Mother of Rivers
  • The White Mountain State
New Jersey
The Garden State

One version of the story behind New Jersey's nickname credits Abraham Browning of Camden of coining the name. Another theory suggests that it was Benjamin Franklin who came up with the name.

Other names
  • The Crossroads of the Revolution
  • The Tomato State
New Mexico
The Land of Enchantment

The nickname for New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment (La Tierra del Encanto in Spanish) is a highly appropriate name, considering the scenic beauty and rich history of the state.

Other names
  • The Land of Sunshine
  • The Spanish State
New York
The Empire State

No, the name does not come from the Empire State building in New York city, as many outsiders mistakenly believe. Some stories actually credit the name to George Washington who referred to New York state in December 1784 as "at present the seat of the Empire".

Other names
  • The Excelsior State
North Carolina
The Old North State

In 1710, when the Carolina colony was divided as a result of disputes over governance, the southern part was called South Carolina and the older, northern settlement became North Carolina. This was when the nickname "Old North State" was born.

Other names
  • The Tar Heel State
  • First in Flight State
North Dakota
The Peace Garden State

North Dakota's nickname is derived from the International Peace Garden, which straddles the boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba. The term was first placed on license plates, and was later accepted as the nickname.

Other names
  • The Rough Rider State
  • The Flickertail State
Ohio
The Buckeye State

Ohio's nickname, The Buckeye State comes from the large number of buckeye trees which once covered the hills and plains across the state. The name itself is derived from a native American word which named the nut of the tree owing to its resemblance to a buck's eye.

Other names
  • The Birthplace of Aviation
  • Mother of Modern Presidents
Oklahoma
The Sooner State

Oklahoma's nickname, The Sooner State, is a reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on the choicest pieces of land prior to the official opening date. It also refers to the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which opened the door for white settlement in America's Indian Territory.

Other names
  • Native America
Oregon
The Beaver State

Oregon was once a hot spot for hunting beavers for their pelts―the trapping route came to be known as The Oregon Trail. Additionally, the beaver is Oregon's official state animal, and is also pictured on their flag.

Other names
  • Pacific Wonderland
Pennsylvania
The Keystone State

Pennsylvania was a part of the original 13 colonies and held a key position in the economic, social, and political development of the United States. Also, a reference to the term can be found in the state song of Pennsylvania.

Other names
  • The Quaker State
  • The Liberty Bell State
Rhode Island
The Ocean State

Rhode Island is certainly not an island, but it does have a gorgeous coast, lining the Atlantic Ocean. The nickname certainly seems justified now.

Other names
  • Little Rhody

South Carolina
The Palmetto State

South Carolina's nickname, The Palmetto State is derived from the official state tree, the sabal or cabbage palmetto.

Other names
  • Sandlapper State
South Dakota
The Mount Rushmore State

South Dakota's nickname does not need an explanation, but we're providing a piece of trivia instead. The state's current nickname was officially adopted in 1980, in place of the former nickname of 'The Sunshine State'.

Other names
  • The Coyote State
  • The Sunshine State
Tennessee
The Volunteer State

Tennessee's nickname, The Volunteer State was earned during the War of 1812, when thousands of volunteer soldiers from Tennessee played a prominent role, particularly in the Battle of New Orleans.

Other names
  • The Big Bend State
  • The Hog and Hominy State
  • The Mother of Southwestern Statesmen
  • The Butternut State
Texas
The Lone Star State

The nickname 'The Lone Star State' originates from the star on the 1836 flag of the Republic of Texas. The rather famous Lone Star is also found on the Texas flag, the great seal, the state's commemorative quarter.

Other names
  • Friendship State
Utah
The Beehive Star State

The nickname for Utah is The Beehive State, referring to the beehive which appears on Utah's flag and state seal. The state insect is the honeybee, and recognizes the beehive cluster as the state's astronomical symbol.

Other names
  • The Friendly State
  • The Mormon State
Vermont
The Green Mountain State

Vermont's nickname, The Green Mountain State is derived from the mountain range of the same name which runs in the state.

Other names
  • See Vermont

Virginia
Old Dominion

The moniker was given by King Charles II in recognition of Virginia's loyalty to the Crown, particularly during the English Civil War. It is also called the "Mother of Presidents" because it is the birthplace of 8 U.S. Presidents.

Other names
  • Mother of States
Washington
The Evergreen State

The state's nickname "Evergreen" was proposed in 1890 by Charles T. Conover from Seattle. The name proved popular as the forests were full of evergreen trees, with the abundance of rain keeping it green throughout the year.

Other names
  • Apple State
West Virginia
The Mountain State

The Appalachian Mountains run through the state of West Virginia, and the state's nickname is derived from them.

Other names
  • Panhandle State

Wisconsin
The Badger State

The badger is Wisconsin's state animal, and also features on the state flag.

Other names
  • America's Dairyland
  • The Cheese State
Wyoming
The Equality State

Wyoming's nickname is derived from the state motto, "Equal Rights". It is also known as The Cowboy State.

Other names
  • Forever West
Despite being informal in nature, these nicknames have made their way into our everyday vocabulary. In some cases, learning about their origins also teaches us something significant about the state's history.
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Published: July 25, 2014
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