How Every State Got Its Nickname
Oklahoma’s “The Sooner State.” Montana is “The Peace Garden State.” Utah is “The Beehive State.” Ever wonder why? We’ve got the stories behind every state’s nickname.
Alabama: The Heart of Dixie
Although Alabama doesn’t have an official nickname, the nickname that’s most commonly used is “The Heart of Dixie,” according to the Alabama state archives. That phrase has appeared on state automobile license plates since the 1950s, although in 2002, the term, “Stars Fell on Alabama,” which refers to a famous meteor shower over Alabama in 1833, also found its way on to license plates. Each state has not only a nickname, but a motto too! You can learn every state’s motto here.
Alaska: The Last Frontier
Because of its great abundance of unsettled land, Alaska earned the nickname “The Last Frontier.” Its official motto, according to Alaska’s official website is “North to the Future,” while the name “Alaska,” itself derives the Aleut word “aleyska,” meaning “great land.”
Arizona: The Grand Canyon State
There’s no explanation needed as to how Arizona got its nickname; it’s proud—and rightly so—of being the home of most of the Grand Canyon, according to Arizona’s state library. Grand Canyon National Park is one of our nation’s very first national parks. While everyone knows the Grand Canyon, few people have been to these practically secret national parks.
Arkansas: The Natural State
“The Natural State,” was officially adopted as the state’s nickname by the Arkansas state legislature in 1995 after lobbying by the Arkansas parks system (which consists of three national forests, five national parks, and 52 state parks). The nickname replaced the former, “Land of Opportunity.” Don’t miss these incredible features that are hidden in America’s national landmarks.
California: The Golden State
California has officially been known as “The Golden State” since 1968, according to the California Senate‘s website. The name refers to the fact that “California’s development and remarkable prosperity began with the discovery of gold” and the California Gold Rush that began in 1848. In fact, “Eureka” has been the official state motto since 1963.
Colorado: The Centennial State
Although some Spanish speakers dispute this, the name “Colorado” “has its origin in the Spanish language, as the word for colored red,” according to Colorado’s state government, which chose the name in 1861 when Colorado became a territory. Its nickname became “The Centennial State” because the territory became a state in our nation’s Centennial Year (1876), 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Connecticut: The Constitution State
Connecticut was designated the Constitution State by the General Assembly in 1959, according to the Connecticut State Library. According to the site, “as early as the 19th Century, John Fiske, a popular historian from Connecticut, made the claim that the Fundamental Orders of 1638/1639 were the first written constitution in history.”
Delaware: The First State
On December 7, 1787, Delaware was the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and it has been known as “The First State” ever since. It didn’t become its official nickname until May 23, 2002, following a request by Mrs. Anabelle O’Malley’s First Grade Class at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School in Wilmington.
Florida: The Sunshine State
Florida has been known officially as “The Sunshine State” since 1970 when the state legislature adopted the nickname, but it had already been informally referred to as The Sunshine State because of its balmy climate, according to History.com. The site shares that the name “Florida” came from the “Pascual Florida,” or “Feast of Flowers,” a Spanish celebration. Find out how every state got its name.
Georgia: The Peach State
Georgia got its name from King George II, who was king of Britain when Europeans first settled in the colony in 1733, according to the Georgia state government. The nickname is a reference to Georgia’s abundance of peach trees, the peach is also the state fruit, you’ll find any number of Peachtree Streets throughout the state, and even a peachtree water tower, which made our list of the strangest roadside attractions by state.