Q: What is the origin of state nicknames and why are there often more than one name associated with a particular state?
A: Many states have had a number of different nicknames often being associated with important events or places within the state. Some states have official names and others have names developed by advertisements or license plates.
The Mass official state nickname is the Bay State but in times passed it has been called the Baked Bean State, the Codfish State(depicted on earlier license plates), the Pilgrim State, the Spirit of America (currently used on license plates) and sometimes in jest as Taxachusetts. Early settlers are responsible for naming it due to it's proximity to several large bays.
The state of New Hampshire official website lists the nickname as Granite State but it has not been officially accepted by statute. It has also been called the White Mountain State for the obvious reason that the White Mountains virtually cover most of the northern part of the state.
Rhode Island, on the other hand, is known as the Ocean State and sometimes as the Plantation State. It seems odd that the smallest state in the Union has this nickname, but due to it's many bays and inlets,14% of the land mass is coastline. The tourist industry coined the named to promote tourism in the state.The smallest state also has the longest official name, Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations.
Connecticut was designated as the Constitution State at the official General Assembly in 1959. Connecticut's history is rich with historic details, each claiming a piece in naming the state nickname. It has also been named the Nutmeg State ( another interesting story), the Charter Oaks State and also The Land of Steady Habits.
Maine is officially known as the Pine Tree State, but the license plates say Vacationland. The state has more than 17 million acres of trees, many of them white pine. It has also been called the Lumber State, appropriate since 89% of the state is tree covered.
Vermont's official name was given in 1761, as Verd Mont, literally meaning Green Mountain. The nickname Green Mountain State was a natural extension of it's actual name.
Some of the more notable state nicknames go to other parts of the country. Wyoming for instance is known as the “Equality State” because of the rights women have traditionally enjoyed there. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries and hold public office. Missouri is unofficially known as the “Show Me State,” a name attributed to Representative Willard Van Diver. It conotates a 'certain self-deprecating stubbornness and devotion to simple common sense'. Missouri is also known by a number of other names such as the Sleepy State, the Bullion State, the Cave State, the Lead State, Ozark State and the Puke Sate (thought to be a derivation of Pike.)
Many of the state nicknames have also been incorporated into their sports teams such as Wolverines, Buckeyes, Hooters and Sooners.
Have a question, or is there something you’ve always wondered about?
Ask Madalyn invites your questions.
- Thursday, 15 November 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Ask Madalyn