All 50 States In The US & Their Official Nicknames

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Official Nicknames
image: Wikimedia Commons

It is fascinating how all 50 states in the US have official nicknames that represent their natural features and many more. You will find 50 states in alphabetical order along with their official state nicknames in the list below. Don’t forget to let us know which states you think have the coolest and most fitting nicknames.

1Alabama

Official Nickname: Yellowhammer State

Yellowhammer has become the common nickname of Alabama during the Civil War due to the soldiers’ uniforms. A company of Alabama soldiers wore uniforms trimmed with yellow cloths that resembled the yellowhammer bird’s feathers and tails. Since yellowhammer aka flicker woodpecker is the state bird of Alabama, this nickname is somehow perfect for it.

2Alaska

Official Nickname: The Last Frontier

Alaska derives from the Aleut word “aleyska”, meaning Great Land. While most states in the US are highly populated, Alaska has a great abundance of unsettled land. Only one-third of the land in the entire state has been defined by cities and towns. Since a vast expanse of the landscape is remote and undisturbed, it gets the nickname The Last Frontier.

3Arizona

Official Nickname: The Grand Canyon State

Easy and simple, its official nickname comes from the famous landmark the Grand Canyon in the northern part of the state. In Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the nation’s very first national parks. Despite having breathtaking beauty, not a lot of people have been to this amazing national park.

4Arkansas

Official Nickname: The Natural State

This official nickname was adopted by the state in 1995 due to the extraordinary natural beauty of Arkansas. Back then, there were 3 national forests, 5 national parks, and 52 state parks, making the nickname perfect for the state. Before this official nickname, its other nicknames were the Wonder State (1923-1947) and the Land of Opportunity (1947-1995).

5California

Official Nickname: The Golden State

Because this state’s development and prosperity began with the discovery of gold, there is no nickname more suitable than this. The nickname was official in 1968 after the state became one of the famous places for gold mining. Plus with the golden yellow poppies that are one of the state’s beautiful flowers, it is the golden state after all.

6Colorado

Official Nickname: The Centennial State

Colorado has its origin in Spanish, and the word means “colored red”. It was the state’s name in 1861 when it became a territory. The territory became a state in the nation’s Centennial Year (1876) which was 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed; hence the nickname.

7Connecticut

Official Nickname: The Constitution State

Despite the fact that Delaware was the first to ratify the US Constitution, Connecticut claims to have the first written constitution. Because of its Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in 1639, the state got its official nickname as the Constitution State.

8Delaware

Official Nickname: The First State

Not being able to get the official nickname as the Constitution State, Delaware still found a way to get a great nickname. On December 7, 1787, Delaware was the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the US constitution. After a request by Mrs. Anebelle O’Malley, it gained its official nickname on May 23, 2002.

9Florida

Official Nickname: The Sunshine State

The Sunshine State is just perfect for Florida due to its tropical and subtropical climate. Plus with its average of 230 days of sunshine a year, this state is one of the most popular beach destinations. There are a lot of things to explore, and the balmy climate makes this state very welcoming for vacations.

10Georgia

Official Nickname: The Peach State

Peach is Georgia state fruit, and its nickname refers to the abundance of peach trees in the state. Just like the official nickname suggests, you will see a lot of peach trees in Georgia. Even more interesting, there are also Peachtree Streets in any number throughout the state. Georgia got its name from King George II of Britain when Europeans first settled in the colony in 1733.

11Hawaii

Official Nickname: The Aloha State

Aloha means “hello” or “goodbye”, and it is one of the most commonly used words in the native Hawaiian language. The state refers to itself as The Aloha State since 1959 which was the same year it became a state. As one of the happiest states in the US with amazing culture and hospitality, Aloha is just the right nickname.

12Idaho

Official Nickname: The Gem State

Idaho was believed to be a Native American Shoshone word for Gem of the Mountain. The name is appropriate due to the land’s vast natural resources such as gemstones like jade, pals, and more. Although Idaho is just a made-up word after all, this state name is still used anyway. Along with that, the nickname as the Gem State is because of the large deposits of gems, gold, minerals, and silver in the state.

13Illinois

Official Nickname: Prairie State

This state has been known as the Prairie State since at least 1842 due to the vast amounts of prairie grass. However, this does not really distinguish it from other grassy states such as the Dakotas, Kansas, and Nebraska. This is why it is more famous for its official state slogan as The Land of Lincoln instead in recent years.

14Indiana

Official Nickname: The Hoosier State

There are many origins regarding this nickname, and the oldest one dated back to the early 1830s. Among the theories, the most popular one is the greeting to an unexpected knock on the door with “Who’s here?” Plus with the nickname of Indiana rivermen being “husher”, Hoosier has become the nickname of the state. Even the mascot for Indiana University is The Hoosier.

15Iowa

Official Nickname: The Hawkeye State

It is believed that Iowa’s nickname came from the name of a character in the novel The Last of the Mohicans. Then two men who were promoting the state pushed the name into popularity before it became the official nickname in 1838. Another nickname of Iowa is the Corn State due to the vast corn farmland of the state.

16Kansas

Official Nickname: The Sunflower State

Easy and simple, there are native wild sunflowers (Helianthus) grow around the state; hence the nickname. Sunflowers do not only represent the state but also its people. It became the state’s official flower in 1903, and it also appears on the state’s flag as well.

17Kentucky

Official Nickname: The Bluegrass State

When settlers first came to this state, all they saw were fields of tall grass with a blue cast. Bluegrass is actually green, but it produces blue buds in springs that make the field seem blue from afar. Apart from being the state’s official nickname, bluegrass is also Kentucky’s official state music and official state foods.

18Louisiana

Official Nickname: The Pelican State

You can also see the image of a pelican on Louisiana’s flag, seal, and US mint bicentennial quarter. Brown pelicans are the state’s official birds, and this state is also famous as a culinary destination as well.

19Maine

Official Nickname: The Pine Tree State

Maine possesses some of the most enchanting forests in the United States that represent the state’s cultural identity. There are approximately 17 million acres of forests, pine trees, and trees there. This state’s official tree is the White Pine, and a pine tree is featured on Maine’s flag, seal, and quarter.

20Maryland

Official Nickname: The Old Line State

This nickname was affectionately bestowed by General George Washington for its courageous line troops who served in the Revolutionary War. Maryland also goes by another nickname as The Free State due to slavery abolishment on November 1, 1864, by the state constitution.

21Massachusetts

Official Nickname: The Bay State

The interesting thing about this state is that “Bay” was also part of its original name. Back then, it was Massachusetts Bay Colony before it became Massachusetts in 1788. There are 5 bays in Massachusetts including Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay, Narragansett Bay, and Quincy Bay. These 5 bays are the state’s most defining natural features whose beauty represents the state’s official nickname.

22Michigan

Official Nickname: The Great Lakes State

Michigan touches 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, making it a perfect destination for outdoor activities and adventures. This state also goes by another famous nickname as the Wolverine State that represents the people of Michigan. During the 1835 Toledo War between Michigan and Ohio, Ohioans called Michiganians “wolverines” because they fought viciously just like wolverines. Even the University of Michigan adopted the wolverine as its mascot to shows their courage and power.

23Minnesota

Official Nickname: The North Star State

Minnesota’s motto is “L’etoile du Nord” which is French for The North Star has brought the state’s most popular nickname. At the same time, it also goes by another nickname as The Land of 10,000 Lakes. There are actually 11,842 lakes in Minnesota that provide many beautiful places for outdoor water activities. But since 10,000 already indicates the idea, this nickname will totally do.

24Mississippi

Official Nickname: The Magnolia State

Back in 1900 and 1935, school children voted magnolia as the state’s favorite flower and tree. The beauty and fragrance of magnolia are the perfect representatives for the state’s flower, tree, and official nickname.

25Missouri

Official Nickname: The Show Me State

Although not official, The Show Me State has been used to represent Missouri for over a century now. In 1899, Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver said in his speech: “Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” The nickname of this state began since then to indicate the conservative and stubborn character of Missourians.

26Montana

Official Nickname: The Treasure State

Thanks to the rich mineral resources such as gold and silver mines, The Treasure State is the perfect nickname for Montana. Plus with the state motto that says “Oro y Plata” which is Spanish for “gold and silver”, we know what it is famous for.

27Nebraska

Official Nickname: The Cornhusker State

Corn is a major crop in Nebraska, and this state adopted this official nickname since 1945. It was sportswriter Charles Sumner Sherman who popularized this nickname, and everyone liked it. Before The Cornhusker State, Nebraska’s nickname used to be the Tree Planters State because the residents planted so many trees.

28Nevada

Official Nickname: The Silver State

Just like other states with natural resources, one of Nevada’s nicknames also represents such treasure. The Silver State derives from the state’s large silver mine industry, and this nickname also appears on Nevada license plates. Another famous nickname is The Battle Born State because it acquired statehood in the middle of the country’s deadliest conflict.

29New Hampshire

Official Nickname: The Granite State

Among 4 state nicknames, The Granite State is the most common and popular due to the state’s large quantities of stone. At the same time, New Hampshire is also known for its granite quarrying industry as well. As for 3 other nicknames, they are:

  • Mother of Rivers: because of the rivers of New England that originate in the New Hampshire mountains.
  • Switzerland of America: because of its beautiful alpine scenery.
  • White Mountain State: because of New Hampshire’s White mountains.

30New Jersey

Official Nickname: The Garden State

In 1876, Abraham Browning gave this nickname to New Jersey at the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition. During that time, he described New Jersey as a barrel full of good things but open at both ends. This means the state allows New York and Pennsylvania to reach in and grab resources from it. The Garden State became an official nickname in 1954, but with more reasons. This state is also one of the biggest growers of bell peppers, blueberries, cranberries, peaches, and spinach. It is just right to have The Garden State as the official nicknames of New Jersey.

31New Mexico

Official Nickname: The Land Of Enchantment

The combination of the state’s extraordinary beauty and the title of a book by Lilian Whiting led to its official nickname in 1999. Along with that, The Land of Enchantment is also one of the ways to bring tourism into the state as well. The nickname is true to its magical sights as New Mexico is famous for its mountain towns, outdoor adventures, and more.

32New York

Official Nickname: The Empire State

Despite having a very famous nickname, there is no clear origin to New York’s nickname The Empire State. However, one of the stories dated back to 1785 when George Washington praised New York’s resilience in the Revolutionary War in his letter. He described this state as “the seat of the empire”. This catchy nickname also inspired many names of buildings and streets around New York especially the famous Empire State Building.

33North Carolina

Official Nickname: The Tar Heel State

As the leading producer of tar for the naval industry in the 19th century, this is just the perfect nickname. On top of that, North Carolina was also the largest producer of pitch, rosin, and turpentine from 1720 to 1870. Although calling someone a “tar heel” was a form of derogating that person as working class, the state turned the table. North Californians took pride in the Civil War due to their contribution to mass production to aid the war. It even adopted the term as the mascot for the University of North Carolina as well.

34North Dakota

Official Nickname: The Peace Garden State

This nickname refers to the International Peace Garden on North Dakota’s border with Canada. In 1956, the Motor Vehicle Department in North Dakota placed “Peace Garden State” on license plates. Because this phrase was so popular, the state adopted it as the official nickname a year later in 1957.

35Ohio

Official Nickname: The Buckeye State

The nickname of Ohio came from all the buckeye trees within the state’s borders, and Ohioans refer to themselves as Buckeyes. Both the people and the tree became synonymous especially after Ohioan William Henry Harrison won the presidential election in 1840. However, it did not become Ohio’s official nickname until 1953 which was almost a century.

36Oklahoma

Official Nickname: The Sooner State

In 1889, the US government provided millions of acres of land to settlers on a “first come first serve” basis. The signal that marked the start of the settlement was a pistol fire that would start on the 22nd of April. However, there were some people who snuck into the land before the designated start time. Those people hid so that they would be able to claim the land “sooner” than the official start time. They were known as the Sooners, and the word began to symbolize an energetic and can-do spirit. Weirdly enough, it also became the state’s official nickname as well.

37Oregon

Official Nickname: The Beaver State

Beavers are the second largest rodents in the world, and these amazing builders represent a lot of things in Oregon. This nickname originated in the early 19th century when fur hats (from beaver pelts) were in trend. At the same time, beavers are very common throughout Oregon’s riparian areas and waterways. Beavers are also the official state animal, and it appears on Oregon’s state flag as well.

38Pennsylvania

Official Nickname: The Keystone State

So a keystone is an arch that provides support for the pieces around it. Geographically, Pennsylvania was located in the middle of the original arch of 13 colonies. This state offered a vital supporting role in the economic and political development of the early United States. Because of the help that Pennsylvania provided to hold together the states, this official nickname is simply perfect for it.

39Rhode Island

Official Nickname: The Ocean State

Not different from some of the states’ official nicknames, Rhode Island uses this title to promote tourism in the state. It is the smallest state that is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long. However, Rhode Island is famous for its shoreline on Narragansett Bay in the Atlantic Ocean that runs for 400 miles. Beautiful beaches with historic mansions make a fascinating combination of vacations that many people enjoy.

40South Carolina

Official Nickname: The Palmetto State

South Carolina got its nickname “The Palmetto State” from its state tree, the Sabal palmetto. The state honors this tree because of the victory it gets during the colonist’ conflicts with the British in 1775. At that time, the Revolutionary War took place in Charleston Harbor. Their fort was made of palmetto logs, and it is said that it could withstand British cannonballs. The colonists earned their big victory, and the palmetto state also appears on the state’s flag and seal as well.

41South Dakota

Official Nickname: Mount Rushmore State

So obvious, South Dakota is the home to the famous Mount Rushmore which is its most famous landmark. By just looking at the official nickname, you know where you want to go when you visit this state. Apart from Mount Rushmore, there are also many national parks that hold incredible beauty for tourists to explore as well.

42Tennessee

Official Nickname: The Volunteer State

This nickname is a tribute to the state’s volunteer soldiers during the war in 1812. The admirable part is that those voluntary soldiers from Tennessee displayed amazing bravery and great valor in the Battle of New Orleans. That is not all, the same thing also happened in the late 1840s during the Mexican-American War. The government called for 2,800 people to fight but there were up to 30,000 Tennessean soldiers showed up. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful origins for states’ official nicknames.

43Texas

Official Nickname: The Lone Star State

There are several theories regarding the origins of Texas’s nickname, and we have two here. A very popular theory was about the state’s pride in their fights against Mexico to win its independence. When it became its own republic in 1836, Texas put up its flag with a single star along with 3 colors. Azure blue represents loyalty, blood-red shows bravery, and white expresses the purity of the people of Texas. Another simple theory is that the state got its nickname from the lone star on its flag and state seal.

44Utah

Official Nickname: The Beehive State

While almost all states’ official nicknames have something to do with their land, Utah is the opposite. The nickname of this state has nothing to do with actual bees or honey but with a religious reference instead. In fact, most of the nicknames associated with Utah are related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka Mormons. Utah’s first Mormon settlers named the area The State of Deseret which was a reference to the honeybee in The Book of Mormon. This nickname lasted only a year before they settled for The Beehive State until now. Also, they chose beehive as an emblem to represent cooperation, hard work, and the qualities of perseverance, stability, and thrift.

45Vermont

Official Nickname: The Green Mountain State

Vermont’s nickname refers to the mountains that this state got its name from, Vert Mont. This name was called by the first French settlers in the early 1600s, meaning Green Mountain. Simply put, the landmark is full of green mountains, so the French called it green mountain. It became the state’s name, and they use their natural beauty as their official nickname.

46Virginia

Official Nickname: The Old Dominion State

Virginia got this nickname due to the fact that it was the first and oldest overseas dominions of the kings and queens of England. Another interesting thing is that Virginia also stayed loyal as a colony as well. It remained devoted to King Charles I and his son Charles II during the English Civil War and afterward. The nickname The Old Dominion State was used since the early 1600s until now.

47Washington

Official Nickname: The Evergreen State

Washington is the only state named for a US president, and its nickname also has an interesting origin. C.T. Conover who was a pioneer Seattle realtor and historian gave this state the nickname for its abundant lush evergreen forests. From fir trees to deep green forests of pines, Washington has them all in its geography. The nickname was given in the late 19th century, but it has not been officially adopted yet.

48West Virginia

Official Nickname: The Mountain State

West Virginia became the 35th state in the Union after splitting from Virginia in 1863. This part of the country is known for its scenic mountain beauty and extraordinary outdoor recreation landscapes. Along with that, it is the third most forested state in the US, so the nickname matches perfectly. This state is also famous for having the friendliest folks in the country, and there are a lot of things to see there.

49Wisconsin

Official Nickname: The Badger State

While being so famous for cheese and dairy products, the state’s official nickname is on another side. The Badger State is a big irony because it does not relate to the population of the animal either. Back in the 1800s, Wisconsin workers made temporary homes by digging caves into the rock of the mines. This is similar to the tunnels that badgers dig for shelters, and those miners were known as badger boys or badgers. Since then the name also came to represent the state itself.

50Wyoming

Official Nickname: The Equality State / The Cowboy State

Goes by many nicknames, The Equality State seems to stand out the most among the others. Wyoming got this nickname because it was the first state where women have the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on juries. As for The Cowboy State, it is because of the state’s cowboy culture through dude ranches, fishing, horseback riding, rodeos, etc. Wyoming is also full of natural parks and some famous parks that are worth visiting as well.

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