A Comprehensive Listing of State Nicknames

Official and Nonofficial Nicknames of the 50 States

50 States Map
50 States Map. chokkicx Getty Images

The United States has 50 named states. What isn't as well known is the fact that every one of those states has a nickname (official or not)—or maybe even more than one. Some state nicknames come out of the pages of history (Constitution State, Land of Lincoln), and some come from what grows there (Peach State, Spud State) or an identifying natural feature (Grand Canyon State). Some just make you want to go there (Sunshine State, Colorful Colorado, Land of Opportunity).

Historical Nicknames

To those not living there, some of the nicknames might seem odd or mysterious. Or they might not be what you think. The Constitution State isn't where the U.S. Constitution was drafted (that was in Philadelphia), but rather the nickname comes from a document with regulations for running towns that was put together in 1639 by three cities. This document was called the Fundamental Orders and is considered by some to be the first written constitution. There's much debate about this "first" and even debate about whether the document constitutes a constitution.

Wars come into play in the nicknames for Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee. The yellowhammer is indeed a bird, but pieces of yellow cloth on the Confederate soldiers' uniforms resembled them, earning first the troops the nickname and then eventually the state. And Maryland's nickname "Old Line" refers to the steadfast Maryland troops from the era of the American Revolution. Tennessee soldiers who volunteered during the Mexican-American War (not the War of 1812) earned them their state's nickname, the "Volunteer State."

Also from the colonial era, the "Tar Heel" nickname comes from the fact that North Carolina pine trees were harvested to make tar, pitch, and turpentine used in wooden naval shipbuilding. This was messy work, and workers inevitably found the sticky substance on their feet—hence the name. 

In 1889 in Oklahoma, settlers poured in to stake land claims. Those who came in early, before the specified time, were called "Sooners." The territory became a state in 1907.

State Nicknames

Here's a listing of the often colorful nicknames of the 50 states. When a state has multiple nicknames, the official or most common state nickname is listed first.

Alabama: Yellowhammer State, Heart of Dixie, Camellia State

Alaska: The Last Frontier

Arizona: Grand Canyon State, Copper State

Arkansas: The Natural State, Land of Opportunity, The Razorback State

California: Golden State

Colorado: Centennial State, Colorful Colorado

Connecticut: Constitution State, Nutmeg State

Delaware: First State, Diamond State, Blue Hen State, Small Wonder

Florida: Sunshine State

Georgia: Peach State, Empire of the South, Goober State

Hawaii: Aloha State, Pineapple State

Idaho: Gem State, Spud State

Illinois: Prairie State, Land of Lincoln

Indiana: Hoosier State

Iowa: Hawkeye State

Kansas: Sunflower State, Salt of the Earth

Kentucky: Bluegrass State

Louisiana: Pelican State, Sugar State

Maine: Pine Tree State

Maryland: Old Line State, Free State

Massachusetts: Bay State, Old Colony State

Michigan: Great Lakes State, Wolverine State

Minnesota: North Star State, Gopher State, Land of 10,000 Lakes, Bread and Butter State

Mississippi: Magnolia State

Missouri: Show Me State

Montana: Treasure State, Big Sky State

Nebraska: Cornhusker State

Nevada: Silver State, Battle Born State, Sagebrush State

New Hampshire: Granite State

New Jersey: Garden State

New Mexico: Land of Enchantment

New York: Empire State

North Carolina: Tar Heel State, Old North State

North Dakota: Peace Garden State, Flickertail State, Roughrider State

Ohio: Buckeye State, Modern Mother of Presidents

Oklahoma: Sooner State, Panhandle State

Oregon: Beaver State

Pennsylvania: Keystone State, Quaker State

Rhode Island: Ocean State, Little Rhody

South Carolina: Palmetto State

South Dakota: Coyote State, Mount Rushmore State

Tennessee: Volunteer State, Big Bend State

Texas: Lone Star State

Utah: Beehive State

Vermont: Green Mountain State

Virginia: Old Dominion

Washington: Evergreen State, Chinook State

West Virginia: Mountain State

Wisconsin: Badger State

Wyoming: Equality State, Cowboy State

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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "A Comprehensive Listing of State Nicknames." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/state-nicknames-guide-1435566. Rosenberg, Matt. (2020, August 27). A Comprehensive Listing of State Nicknames. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/state-nicknames-guide-1435566 Rosenberg, Matt. "A Comprehensive Listing of State Nicknames." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/state-nicknames-guide-1435566 (accessed June 6, 2023).