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Do you know your state nicknames?

  • Do you know your state nicknames?
    1/ Mihai Simonia // Shutterstock

    Do you know your state nicknames?

    U.S. history buffs might be experts on the details of state geography and capitals, but fewer may claim to know each of the 50 states’ nicknames. Every state has one, whether it’s official or just a common epithet used colloquially.

    To test your knowledge, Stacker has compiled a list of all the top state nicknames throughout the country. Some nicknames aren’t intuitive at all—for example, “The Badger State,” which really has no basis in the actual animal itself, but rather in the people who lived and worked in the state. Others are fairly straightforward. Even U.S. history newbies might wager a guess as to “The Grand Canyon State” and “Mount Rushmore State.”

    History pros and amateurs alike can quiz each other to discover which nickname goes with which state and just how it earned its moniker. Dedicated road-trippers may have an advantage, as some state nicknames appear on license plates. Who knows? Hours of playing the license plate game with travel companions may finally come in handy. 

    Read on to quiz yourself on every state's nicknames. 

    RELATED: Do you know all the state capitals?

  • Nickname: The Yellowhammer State
    2/ YvonneH // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Yellowhammer State

    This nickname dates back to the Civil War, when soldiers from the state trimmed their uniforms with yellow—causing them to look like the northern flicker woodpecker, commonly known as the “yellowhammer."

  • State: Alabama
    3/ bionicteaching // Flickr

    State: Alabama

    Alabama's newly trimmed Confederate uniforms first debuted in Kentucky, when one of the company men already on the site shouted, “Yellowhammer, yellowhammer, flicker, flicker!" upon seeing them.

  • Nickname: The Last Frontier
    4/ U.S. Geological Survey // Flickr

    Nickname: The Last Frontier

    This state is huge and full of open space. Through the end of the 19th century, pioneers and explorers continued to refer to it as “The Last Frontier."

  • State: Alaska
    5/ Ron Clausen // Wikicommons

    State: Alaska

    Alaska's distance from the rest of the U.S. and its rugged environment keeps this nickname relevant. The state is also known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun."

  • Nickname: The Grand Canyon State
    6/ volvob12b // Flickr

    Nickname: The Grand Canyon State

    This state is named after the national park and landform existing almost entirely within its borders.

  • State: Arizona
    7/ volvob12b // Flickr

    State: Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park—and the canyon itself—is almost entirely inside Arizona's borders. The canyon was formed mainly by erosion from the Colorado River.

  • Nickname: The Natural State
    8/ kenlund // Flickr

    Nickname: The Natural State

    This state nickname reflects the beauty of the state itself, with many natural features across the landscape.

  • State: Arkansas
    9/ Fredlyfish4 // Wikicommons

    State: Arkansas

    Arkansas has the country's first nationally protected river, the Buffalo National River, five national parks, 52 state parks, and three national forests.

  • Nickname: The Golden State
    10/ inkknife_2000

    Nickname: The Golden State

    Many things in this state have revolved around gold since 1848—including flowers, bridges, minerals, and more.

  • State: California
    11/ Tony Webster

    State: California

    California officially became “The Golden State" in 1968, but it had been associated with gold since the gold rush in 1848. The nickname is also given on behalf of the many fields of golden poppies, the Golden Gate Bridge, golden sunsets, and the state mineral: gold.

  • Nickname: The Centennial State
    12/ 12019 // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Centennial State

    This state entered the country officially on the centennial of the Declaration of Independence.

  • State: Colorado
    13/ 12019 // Pixabay

    State: Colorado

    In 1876, Colorado became a state—which was 100 years after the 1776 Declaration of Independence. It's also known as Colorful Colorado, thanks to the landscape.

  • Nickname: The Constitution State
    14/ Daderot // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Constitution State

    This state's first constitution reportedly inspired the official United States Constitution.

  • State: Connecticut
    15/ iip-photo-archive // Flickr

    State: Connecticut

    The Fundamental Orders, or Connecticut's first state constitution written in 1638 to 1639, shared many of the same ideals that would be set out in the U.S. Constitution. Connecticut is also known as the Nutmeg State, and residents are sometimes called Nutmeggers.

  • Nickname: The First State
    16/ SachinDaluja // Flickr

    Nickname: The First State

    This nickname was made official after a request by an elementary school class.

  • State: Delaware
    17/ mpd01605 // Flickr

    State: Delaware

    Anabelle O'Malley's first grade class at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School requested this state nickname become official to honor the fact that Delaware was the first state to officially ratify the U.S. Constitution.

  • Nickname: The Sunshine State
    18/ USDAGOV // Flickr

    Nickname: The Sunshine State

    This nickname comes courtesy of the state's pleasant climate.

  • State: Florida
    19/ aldrin_muya // Flickr

    State: Florida

    The entirety of Florida has either a subtropical (north and central Florida) or tropical (south and the Keys) climate—which means warm weather and lots of sunshine.

  • Nickname: The Peach State
    20/ skeeze // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Peach State

    Peaches grown in this state are known to be superior to others throughout the country.

  • State: Georgia
    21/ Mike // Wikicommons

    State: Georgia

    Georgia's official state fruit is the peach, and the fruit there is often recognized as the highest quality peach thanks to color, size, flavor, and texture.

  • Nickname: The Aloha State
    22/ Father of JGKlein // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Aloha State

    This state is named after a word in the native language.


  • State: Hawaii
    23/ Cristo Vlahos // Wikicommons

    State: Hawaii

    Hawaii is the most recent state added to the U.S., and it exudes “aloha"—a word that represents compassion, love, and peace.

  • Nickname: The Gem State
    24/ blmidaho // Flickr

    Nickname: The Gem State

    This nickname is based on a fake Native American word.

  • State: Idaho
    25/ aprilsuzi // Pixabay

    State: Idaho

    When mining lobbyist George M. Willing presented the idea for Idaho as a state to Congress, he said the word “Idaho" meant “Gem of the Mountains" in the Shoshone language. Turns out Willing made that all up, but the gem moniker stuck.

  • Nickname: The Prairie State
    26/ Yinan Chen // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Prairie State

    The state was once almost entirely covered in prairie grass.

  • State: Illinois
    27/ Dominic Sherony // Flickr

    State: Illinois

    As far back as 1842, people have referred to Illinois as the Prairie State thanks to the abundance of prairie grasses. It's also commonly referred to as “The Land of Lincoln."

  • Nickname: The Hoosier State
    28/ modonnell // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Hoosier State

    "Hoosier" isn't just in the state nickname—it's also a name for the people who reside there.

  • State: Indiana
    29/ dougtone // Flickr

    State: Indiana

    No one is 100% certain why Indiana is called the Hoosier State, nor why the people there are called Hoosiers, but the nickname has been around since the early 1830s. The word has been said to derive from a crew of canal workers, an Indian word for corn, a frequent response from settlers after a knock on the door, and more.

  • Nickname: The Hawkeye State
    30/ 12019 // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Hawkeye State

    A historical Native American chief is the reason for this state's nickname.

  • State: Iowa
    31/ carlwwycof // Flickr

    State: Iowa

    Chief Black Hawk led the Sauk tribe into battle against the settlers on their land, and the Native Americans were relocated to Iowa after they lost. The state nickname honors Chief Black Hawk.

  • Nickname: The Sunflower State
    32/ benasmith71 // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Sunflower State

    The sunflower is the official flower of this state.

  • State: Kansas
    33/ gilchristlaura // Flickr

    State: Kansas

    In 1903, the sunflower was named the official flower of Kansas. It grows wild in abundance around the state.

  • Nickname: The Bluegrass State
    34/ Navin75 // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Bluegrass State

    This nickname comes from a type of grass, not the style of music.

  • State: Kentucky
    35/ iip-photo-archive // Flickr

    State: Kentucky

    Bluegrass is abundant across the northern part of Kentucky. In the spring, this type of grass grows bluish-purple buds that make everything look awash in a blue hue.

  • Nickname: The Pelican State
    36/ lsgcp // Flickr

    Nickname: The Pelican State

    An abundance of a certain type of bird led to this nickname.

  • State: Louisiana
    37/ rauschenberger // Pixabay

    State: Louisiana

    Louisiana has long been known as “The Pelican State"—thanks to the large amount of pelicans that frequent the state's coastline. The brown pelican is the state bird as well.

  • Nickname: The Pine Tree State
    38/ famartin // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Pine Tree State

    This state grows some of the tallest pine trees in the Northeast region of the U.S.

  • State: Maine
    39/ jubilleejourney // Wikicommons

    State: Maine

    Maine is known for ample white pine forests, some of the tallest of all the pine trees in the northern United States. In the state's early days, the trees were used in shipbuilding.

  • Nickname: The Old Line State
    40/ smallbones // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Old Line State

    George Washington coined this state nickname.

  • State: Maryland
    41/ drngogo // Wikicommons

    State: Maryland

    During the Revolutionary War, Maryland regularly had lines of troops, known as the Maryland Line. George Washington called it “the old line," bestowing the nickname on the state.

  • Nickname: The Bay State
    42/ masstravel // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Bay State

    This state nickname is mainly based on its location near a body of water.

  • State: Massachusetts
    43/ Katie Haugland Bowen // Flickr

    State: Massachusetts

    Massachusetts' Cape Cod Bay was the home to early settlements on the land, and in 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Company received a royal charter promoting settlement.

  • Nickname: Great Lakes State
    44/ Yinan Chen // Wikicommons

    Nickname: Great Lakes State

    This state's nickname comes from its proximity to a major American landmark.

  • State: Michigan
    45/ Andrew Lin // Wikicommons

    State: Michigan

    Michigan touches four out of the five Great Lakes, and it also has more than 11,000 lakes within its borders. It is also commonly known as “The Wolverine State."

  • Nickname: The North Star State
    46/ dougtone // Flickr

    Nickname: The North Star State

    This nickname comes from a French phrase.

  • State: Minnesota
    47/ Tony Webster // Wikicommons

    State: Minnesota

    The state flag and seal of Minnesota have a French phrase on them: “l'étoile du nord," which means “the star of the north."

  • Nickname: The Magnolia State
    48/ locosteve // Flickr

    Nickname: The Magnolia State

    This state nickname comes from an abundant tree and its flower.

  • State: Mississippi
    49/ kenlund // Flickr

    State: Mississippi

    Mississippi has an ample amount of magnolia trees, which bloom with beautiful flowers. The tree is the state tree, and its flower is the state flower.

  • Nickname: The Show-Me State
    50/ marcusscotus1

    Nickname: The Show-Me State

    A widely believed story gives credit to a congressman for this nickname.

  • State: Missouri
    51/ lolo // Flickr

    State: Missouri

    The exact origin of “The Show-Me State" is unclear, but credit is generally given to Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver. In an 1899 speech in Philadelphia, he said “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."

  • Nickname: The Treasure State
    52/ Martina Nolte // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Treasure State

    People coming to this state might get rich from the naturally occuring treasure.

  • State: Montana
    53/ Sebastian Berggman // Wikicommons

    State: Montana

    Montana earned its nickname from its rich deposits of silver and gold; the treasures here were discovered in the mid-1800s.

  • Nickname: The Cornhusker State
    54/ LenEdgerly // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Cornhusker State

    Essentially, this state nickname is thanks to sports—and a crop.

  • State: Nebraska
    55/ 12019 // Pixabay

    State: Nebraska

    Corn is a big crop in Nebraska, and early settlers had to husk the corn by hand. The University of Nebraska honored that heritage by naming its teams the Cornhuskers, and that was shortly thereafter adopted as the state nickname.

  • Nickname: The Silver State
    56/ Tech Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth // U.S. Air Force

    Nickname: The Silver State

    Forget the gold rush; this state was nicknamed for its silver rush.

  • State: Nevada
    57/ ngd3 // Pixabay

    State: Nevada

    Back in the mid-1800s, deserts in the state of Nevada had a silver crust on top, polished by the wind and dust. Prospectors came and literally shoveled the silver off and got rich.

  • Nickname: The Granite State
    58/ Someone35 // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Granite State

    This nickname is based on the state's official rock.

  • State: New Hampshire
    59/ Hollis1138 // Wikicommons

    State: New Hampshire

    Granite is in ample supply in New Hampshire and there are extensive granite quarries. Granite is the official state rock.

  • Nickname: The Garden State
    60/ qiyang // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Garden State

    This state's nickname has more to do with barrels than gardens.

  • State: New Jersey
    61/ Bruce Emmerling // Pixabay

    State: New Jersey

    New Jersey's attorney general from 1845 to 1850—Abraham Browning—is credited with giving New Jersey the moniker “The Garden State." Browning called New Jersey “an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other," according to the state website.

  • Nickname: Land of Enchantment
    62/ Thomas Shanan // Wikicommons

    Nickname: Land of Enchantment

    This nickname was originally a tourism slogan, gleaned from a travel book.

  • State: New Mexico
    63/ kla4067 // Wikicommons

    State: New Mexico

    In 1935, the tourism bureau of New Mexico called the state “The Land of Enchantment" on a brochure, hoping it would bring visitors in to see the state's rich history and expansive beauty.

  • Nickname: The Empire State
    64/ annieto2k // Flickr

    Nickname: The Empire State

    George Washington might also be responsible for this state nickname, which has nothing to do with a building.

  • State: New York
    65/ arch_sam // Flickr

    State: New York

    New York's nickname came well before the Empire State Building went up. It's often credited to a quote from a letter that George Washington wrote in 1785, calling New York “the Seat of the Empire."

  • Nickname: The Tar Heel State
    66/ Mark Turner // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Tar Heel State

    This state nickname was actually a term of derision when it was first coined.

  • State: North Carolina
    67/ Thomas Shaw // Wikicommons

    State: North Carolina

    North Carolina's maritime history dates back to colonial times, when the state supplied tar, pitch, and turpentine from pine trees to naval stores. The tar often stuck to workers' feet, so the term “tar heel" was used to mock the working class.

  • Nickname: The Peace Garden State
    68/ usfwsmtnprairie // Flickr

    Nickname: The Peace Garden State

    This state is nicknamed after an actual garden.

  • State: North Dakota
    69/ donahos // Flickr

    State: North Dakota

    The International Peace Garden opened in 1932, covering land in both Canada and North Dakota. The nickname was formally adopted in 1957.

  • Nickname: The Buckeye State
    70/ coleur // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Buckeye State

    This state's nickname comes from a tree with a wide prevalence. 

  • State: Ohio
    71/ Paula R. Lively // Flickr

    State: Ohio

    Ohio's state tree is the Ohio buckeye, named so because the nuts look like deer eyes.

  • Nickname: The Sooner State
    72/ National Park Service

    Nickname: The Sooner State

    This state is nicknamed after a set of people who essentially cheated to get land.

  • State: Oklahoma
    73/ Brian Stansberry

    State: Oklahoma

    In 1889, Oklahoma's land was largely unclaimed. The government opened it up for land grabs in April, but potential settlers needed to wait in line at the border before getting in to stake their claim—except the sooners, who snuck in early and hid so they could have the first choice.

  • Nickname: The Beaver State
    74/ 12019 // Pixabay

    Nickname: The Beaver State

    This state nickname dates back to the time of the Oregon Trail.

  • State: Oregon
    75/ Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory // Wikicommons

    State: Oregon

    Beavers are prevalent in Oregon and always have been. “The Beaver State" dates back to the early 1800s when pioneers and trappers made fur hats out of beaver pelts.

  • Nickname: The Keystone State
    76/ WestCoastivieS

    Nickname: The Keystone State

    The keystone is the center stone in an arch that holds everything together—as many have said this state does.

  • State: Pennsylvania
    77/ nostri-imago // Flickr

    State: Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania was in the middle of the first 13 colonies, and had a key position in the early history of the United States. Three important documents originated in Philadelphia: the Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

  • Nickname: The Ocean State
    78/ Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Ocean State

    This small state's nickname comes from its lengthy coastline.

  • State: Rhode Island
    79/ Morrow Long // Wikicommons

    State: Rhode Island

    Rhode Island has more than 400 miles of coastline, mostly along the Atlantic Ocean. Every resident can reach either the Atlantic Ocean or Narragansett Bay within 30 minutes.

  • Nickname: The Palmetto State
    80/ Billy Hathorn // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Palmetto State

    This nickname refers to a specific type of tree.

  • State: South Carolina
    81/ Khanrak // Wikicommons

    State: South Carolina

    South Carolina's state tree is the sabal palmetto, more commonly referred to as the cabbage palmetto. The salute to South Carolina's flag includes a pledge to “The Palmetto State."

  • Nickname: Mount Rushmore State
    82/ volvob12b // Flickr

    Nickname: Mount Rushmore State

    A giant rocky monument gives this state its nickname.

  • State: South Dakota
    83/ volvob12b // Flickr

    State: South Dakota

    South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore, the cliffside face carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

  • Nickname: The Volunteer State
    84/ iip-photo-archive // Flickr

    Nickname: The Volunteer State

    This state's nickname refers to an era when thousands of this state's residents volunteered to go to battle.

  • State: Tennessee
    85/ sixflashphoto // Wikicommons

    State: Tennessee

    Coined during the War of 1812, Tennessee is called “The Volunteer State" because thousands of volunteer soldiers fought in the war. It happened again during the Mexican War—the state government requested 2,800 volunteers and 30,000 people stepped forward.

  • Nickname: The Lone Star State
    86/ Mark Fisher // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Lone Star State

    The single star in this state represents fierce independence.

  • State: Texas
    87/ 12019 // Pixabay

    State: Texas

    Texas is known worldwide as “The Lone Star State," a nickname dating back to 1839 when Texas declared independence from Mexico.

  • Nickname: The Beehive State
    88/ National Park Service

    Nickname: The Beehive State

    Surprisingly, this state nickname actually has nothing to do with insects.

  • State: Utah
    89/ Jon Sullivan // Wikicommos

    State: Utah

    The Beehive State" was coined by Mormons in 1847, when Brigham Young chose the beehive as the emblem of the Salt Lake Valley, representing the cooperation and teamwork that would be necessary to cultivate the land.

  • Nickname: The Green Mountain State
    90/ Compass Points Media // Flickr

    Nickname: The Green Mountain State

    A statewide mountain range gives this state its nickname.

  • State: Vermont
    91/ sayamindu // Flickr

    State: Vermont

    The Green Mountains stretch across Vermont from Massachusetts to Quebec. Samuel de Champlain named the range in 1647.

  • Nickname: Old Dominion
    92/ fotocitizen // Wikicommons

    Nickname: Old Dominion

    This state was loyal to English monarchy, earning this nickname.

  • State: Virginia
    93/ famartin // Wikicommons

    State: Virginia

    In the mid-1600s, Virginia stayed fiercely loyal to the English crown during the English Civil War. It was also the first overseas dominion of the royals.

  • Nickname: The Evergreen State
    94/ Bob Callowan // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Evergreen State

    A pioneer and realtor coined this state's nickname.

  • State: Washington
    95/ carolynhasemail // Pixabay

    State: Washington

    C.T. Conver, a pioneer and realtor in Washington, created the nickname “The Evergreen State" to honor the large tracts of fir and pine trees. The name was made official in 1893.

  • Nickname: The Mountain State
    96/ ForestWander // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Mountain State

    This state is nicknamed based on its terrain.

  • State: West Virginia
    97/ ForestWander // Wikicommons

    State: West Virginia

    West Virginia is covered in mountains and hills, most notably the Appalachian Mountains.

  • Nickname: The Badger State
    98/ mypubliclands // Flickr

    Nickname: The Badger State

    The badgers in this state weren't necessarily of the four-legged type.

  • State: Wisconsin
    99/ rahimageworks // Wikicommons

    State: Wisconsin

    Wisconsin earned its nickname of “The Badger State" in the 1800s, thanks to miners who dug out tunnels searching for lead. Sometimes the miners lived in those tunnels as they worked, which reminded locals of badgers.

  • Nickname: The Equality State
    100/ Sam Beebe // Wikicommons

    Nickname: The Equality State

    Women played a big role in this state's nickname.

  • State: Wyoming
    101/ usfwsmtnprairie // Flickr

    State: Wyoming

    In 1869, Wyoming became the first state to champion suffrage equality by giving women the right to vote.


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