US State Nicknames













Every US state has a nickname (or two, or more), but not all American states have official nicknames. By "official" I mean a nickname that has been formally adopted as a "state symbol" by the state's legislature, rather than one that is just in common use. However, a number of states have officially added a nickname to their licence plates (either as an option, or as an obligation under the legislation) even though the nickname is not recognised separately as a "state symbol".

The table shows all those that I've been able to research. I haven't included slogans or state mottos (which sometimes get mixed up with nicknames), and it's important to note that some nicknames were never widely adopted, having sometimes only appeared in one or two places.

I have used numerous reference sources for this research, although I don't include them individually here as this page is already rather long. Apart from various Almanacs, directories, dictionaries and official Web sites, my main reference source has been H.L. Mencken's The American Language. Not surprisingly there are often conflicts between sources when it comes to details, and I've tried to express this in the text.

Where possible I've tried to specifically identify whether a state has a nickname which is officially recognised as such by the state's legislature. When I've been able to do so, the details appear alongside the state's name (with the date it was adopted). No nickname alongside the state's name, means that so far I've been unable to find any formal confirmation either way.

Alabama (no official nickname)
  Alabama has a central position within the cotton-growing area east of the Mississippi, which has led it to be known as the Cotton State (1844) or the Cotton Plantation State. However, this term was also applied to all the states of the area as a group. There were also many variations quoted, such as Cottondom (first seen in 1856), Cotton Belt (1871), Cotton Country (1871), and even Cottonia (1862). The first Alabamians were sometimes known as "lizards", which gave the state its earlier nickname of Lizard State back in 1845. In more recent times the state has been known as the Yellowhammer State, from Civil War days, and many people believe that it derives from the species of woodpecker - in reality, it arose from the yellow colour of the home-dyed uniforms that the Alabama troops wore during the Civil War. Occasionally, Alabama also gets the Camelia State. While there is no official nickname for the state, The Heart of Dixie is the most commonly used. It was introduced by the state's Chamber of Commerce in the 1940s for publicity purposes, and in 1951 was approved by the legislature for inclusion on licence plates, although the first of these did not appear until four years later.
Alaska (no official nickname)
  Alaska has no official nickname although, when it joined the union in 1959 a number of suggestions were made. The 49th State is the most obvious, and Great Land was also suggested. It was also suggested that it be known as the Sourdough State, as well as the North Star State (this name also being claimed by Minnesota). It was even at one time referred to as Up Over (in comic opposition to New Zealand and Australia, which are "Down Under"). Various facetious nicknames were also applied, including Seward's Ice Box and Seward's Folly, after William Henry Seward who bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867. However, Alaska is more commonly (but unofficially) known as The Last Frontier, or The Land of the Midnight Sun. Alaska licence plates display North to the Future
  When Arizona was admitted to the union in 1912, it quickly gained the nickname The Baby State, which it held on to until 1959 when Alaska was admitted. However, it was also sometimes known as The Valentine State, based on the fact that it was admitted on Valentine's Day. It's not surprising that the success of copper mining the state means that it is occasionally known as the Copper State. Its connection with American Indians gave Arizona the name Apache State, with other nicknames such as Aztec State, Sand Hill State, Sunset State and Grand Canyon State being used at one time or another, with the last of these appearing on licence plates..
Arkansas (The Natural State - 1995)
  The earliest known nickname for Arkansas seems to be Bear State, recorded first in 1858, and this is a nickname to which several states have laid claim. It was also sometimes known as The Bowie State and The Toothpick State (both alluding to the Bowie knife, the favourite weapon of the area, and which was sometimes called "a toothpick knife"), and the Hot-water State (because of the number of hot springs in the area). However, the first official nickname for Arkansas came in 1923 when the legislature designated the state as The Wonder State. In more modern times, Arkansas has had the unofficial nickname of The Razorback State, but was more officialy known as The Land of Opportunity for many years. Arkansas licence plates display another nickname (The Natural State) which became the state's most recent official nickname in 1995.
California (The Golden State - 1968)
  California was first known simply as The Gold State, because of the Gold Rush of 1848. It was also sometimes known as El Dorado and, because of its wine connections, The Grape State. The "Gold" was changed to "Golden" by 1867, and since then the state has been known as The Golden State, which became the state's official nickname in 1968 (appearing also on licence plates). California's state flower is the Golden Poppy, which has led some to assume that it is from this which the state gets its nickname whereas in reality it is much more likely that the state flower was chosen because of the "golden" reference.
  Admitted to the union 100 years from the founding of the Union, Colorado quickly became known as The Centennial State. At about the same time, and because of the abundant silver mines, it also laid claim to The Silver State, but which Nevada disputed its right to as early as 1871. The minerals of the state also led to, according to some unconfirmed reports, The Lead State. It also tried for Switzerland of America, but four other states (Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire and West Virginia) disputed this one. It then tried for Treasure State, but Montana wanted that. Its high elevation has led to the state occasionally being known as the Mile-high State (although that's an epithet now reserved for Denver, the "Mile High City") and the Highest State, its great beauty produced Colorful Colorado, and the many roaming bison herds led to The Buffalo Plains State. In practice, Colorado remains The Centennial State, but it is The Mountain State which appears on licence plates.
Connecticut (The Constitution State - 1959)
  First known as Land of Wooden Nutmegs (after a scam commonly perpetrated there of selling useless nutmegs made of wood), the state quickly became known as The Wooden Nutmeg State, and then just The Nutmeg State. Connecticut has had its fair share of other nicknames. The fact that the first formal constitution written on American soil, back in Hartford, 1639, gave it The Constitution State, a nickname that was made the state's official nickname in 1959, and which appears on licence plates. It was also given the Provisions State and The Blue Law State, from some of its "Blue Laws" in colonial times. In 1843, the only nickname recorded for the state was The Freestone State, and it has also been known as The Land of Steady Habits.
Delaware (The First State - 23 May 2002)
  Nobody quite knows where the modern-day Delaware's Blue Hen State comes from. It was first recorded in the early 1800s, and may be an allusion to a "blue hen chicken", a term meaning a "quick-tempered and fiery person", possibly deriving from the fact that Delaware soldiers took "Blue Hen Cocks" with them as entertainment in the form of cock fights. In the 16th cenury, the Spanish introduced peaches into the state, and a hundred years later the state was almost overrun with them, leading to the nickname The Peach State (which in turn led the state to adopt the Peach Blossom as the state flower in 1895). It also once had the nickname New Sweden, after the name of the original Swedish settlement of "Nye Sverige", founded in 1638. And its small size gave it the nickname of Uncle Sam's Pocket Handkerchief, or more recently, Small Wonder. The state also had two other common nicknames - The Diamond State (because of its small size) and the semi-official name (as it appears on licence plates), The First State (being the first to be admitted to the Union in 1787). In 2002, the state formally adopted The First State as its official nickname after a group of elementary school children approached the majority leader of the House and asked for help in getting the unofficial nickname made official.
District of Columbia
  Not really a state as such, DC has no official nickname - but is frequently called The Nation's Capital (which appears on its licence plates) and America's First City
Florida (The Sunshine State - 1970)
  At one time, back in the 1860s, Florida was known as The Peninsula State, for obvious reasons. Later in the 19th century, it also became known as The Everglades State. Florida is a large producer of oranges which led the state to be known as The Orange State (and in one reference, The Citrus State),the meaning of the state's name ("flowery") led to The Flower State and its location on the east of the Gulf of Mexico led to The Gulf State. For many years, Florida appears as The Sunshine State on its licence plates, but this name was only given official status in 1970 when it was officially adopted by the legislature. The nickname is also unofficially claimed by New Mexico and (until 1980) South Dakota.
Georgia (No Official Nickname)
  In 1843, Georgia was listed as The Pine State, but thirty years later some were calling it The Cracker State. A "cracker" in this context was slang for a low Southern white man, coined in the mid-18th century (although other sources suggest that it may relate to the many teamsters in the state, and be an allusion to the cracking of their whips). Whatever the origin, many Georgians hated the nickname. Georgia has also been known as The Buzzard State (from laws Georgia introduced to protect buzzards), from the peanut came The Goober State, and from its leadership, Yankee-land of the South. The nicknames for Georgia these days are The Empire State of the South (originally used in the mid 19th century, but since then has been hotly disputed by Taxes), and the name that appears on licence plates, The Peach State (the peach being the official state fruit since 1995). However, Georgia's legislature has not designated an official nickname for the state.
Hawaii (The Aloha State - 1959)
  Many of Hawaii's supporters call it Paradise of the Pacific, or Crossroads of the Pacific (although this is mostly associated with the city of Honolulu), and others call it the Pineapple State . But since 1959 a Polynesian greeting has given the state's official nickname (which also appears on licence plates), The Aloha State.
  The name of the state is often (but incorrectly) supposed to be Indian for "gem of the mountains". This has led the state to be nicknamed Gem of the Mountains, or most succinctly in more recent times, The Gem State. But Idaho's famous potatoes aren't ignored, and Land of the Famous Potato and Spud State are sometimes seen, with Famous Potatoes appearing on the licence plates.
  The sucker fish once gave Illinois the nickname, The Sucker State (and also, incidentally, gave us the slang word "sucker", for someone who is easy prey). The state has actually had numerous nicknames over the years - Garden of the West, The Garden State and The Corn State being just three of them. Lincoln began his political career in Illinois, and in 1955 its slogan became Land of Lincoln (which now appears on its licence plates). However, these days it is often known as The Prairie State, a name which it has had since at least as early as 1842, before which it was a term applied to all the plain states.
Indiana (no official nickname)
  Indiana is one of the few states that has had only one nickname - The Hoosier State - a name it has had since the 1830s. At one time, a "hoosier" was any rough person in the Wild West, but it eventually came to be applied contemptuously (like "Yankee") to anyone from Indiana. Nobody quite knows where "Hoosier" comes from, but it seems to have first appeared in 1826. Indiana licence plates display the motto, The Hospitality State
  Nobody is quite sure where the name "Hawkeye" came from, but it is possibly from Fennimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans" - alternatively, it may have been coined as a tribute to the Indian leader, Chief Black Hawk. It seems to have applied to Iowans from around 1840, and The Hawkeye State is first recorded around 1859. A more popular and recent (but also only semi-official) nickname is the Corn State, which has appeared on the state licence plates.
Kansas (The Sunflower State)
  Kansas has probably had more nicknames in its history than any other state. Around the time of the Civil War, it was known as The Battleground of Freedom, but later was known as The Garden of the West, or just The Garden State. However, these last two nicknames were disputed by other states and never really caught on. Another pre-Civil War nickname, based on the old "squatter laws", was The Squatter State. In 1890 it was The Grasshopper State, and other natural calamities gave The Cyclone State and The Dust Bowl State. It has also been called The Salt of the Earth. The Jayhawker State is a name derived from the slang name for a Kansan from around 1875 (although it was used in a wider sense as a fighting abolitionist before then), and still occasionally used, but shortened to Jayhawk State. Kansas itself officially favoured the more demure Sunflower State, which is the official nickname (and the sunflower is the state flower), with The Wheat State appearing on its licence plates.
Kentucky (The Bluegrass State)
  The "Blue Grass" region of the US once extended from Pennsylvania in the east to Ohio in the west, and down into Tennessee in the south. Although the grass is green, the bluish buds produced in the spring give the grass a distinctly blue colour. Kentucky itself was the Bluegrass State from the time of the Civil War, and remains so (the name appears on the state licence plates). One suggestion for the origin of the name "Kentucky" is that it means "dark and bloody ground", and this led to the state (actually its a commonwealth) being known as Dark and Bloody Ground. This refers to battles between tribes of Indians, and not to any conflict with the white man, despite the fact that references as early as 1839 were saying that it was an allusion to battles between Indians and the first white settlers, and brought to the language by Daniel Boone. Over the years, Kentucky has been known as the Hemp State, the Rock-Ribbed State and the Tobacco State.
  Louisiana has been the Pelican State since around 1859 (the Pelican is also the official state bird), and has had few nicknames since then. In 1872, it was listed as being the Creole State, but the misunderstandings of northerners, who thought it suggested African blood rather than the correct meaning of "caucasian", led to its demise. Occasionally, Louisiana gets called the Sugar State. The influence of the great river has led some to call it Child of the Mississippi, and the state's many waterways have also results in the Bayou State (which is the name on the state's licence plates).
  Maine has a pine tree on its seal, and has been known as the Pine Tree Statesince the middle of the 19th century, possibly aroun the 1850s. It derives from the white pine, the official state tree. But it was also recorded as the Lumber State in 1843. The state motto is Dirigo, meaning "I direct", and this has led some to call it the Old Dirigo State. Licence plates in Maine declare the state to be Vacationland, and it has also been known as the Border State.
  Maryland is another state that has had numerous nicknames since colonial times. Old Line State (from the Maryland Line in the old Colonial army, which some say was bestowed on the state by George Washington) and Terrapin State (representative of the decline in standing of the state), are probably the oldest, but in 1923 the editor of the Baltimore Sun used the name Maryland Free State in an ironic editorial when the state was denounced as a traitor to the union for not introducing legislation to enforce prohibition. In fact the editorial was never published, but he went on to use the term in other articles and this soon spread amongst other newspapers in the state, often being shortened to the Free State. Maryland has also been known as the Monumental State (a name which had appeared by 1843, and which derives from Baltimore's nickname of "Monumental City"), the Oyster State (from the Chesapeake oyster, once considered a great pride for the state) and also the Chesapeake State (by which name it is known on its licence plates).
  Massachusetts is a commonwealth, and is usually known as the Bay State, a nickname that goes right back to its early settlers in 1789, with Old Bay State appearing some 50 years later. Both allude to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, founded in 1628. The earlier Plymouth settlement gave Massachusetts Old Colony, a name which first appeared around 1798, and those first colonists also led to the state sometimes being known as the Pilgrim State and the Puritan State. There are reports of it also being called the Baked Bean State, an allusion to the fact that the puritans would serve baked beans on Sundays. But Massachusetts licence plates declare The Spirit of America or The Codfish State
  Michigan has been known as the Wolverine State from at least 1846, when it first appeared in the "Knickerbocker Magazine", although "Wolverine" for an inhabitant of Michigan goes back at least 10 years earlier. Nobody is quite sure exactly why this name should have been applied, as there is no evidence that wolverines actually existed in the state. It is likely that the name was given to Michiginians because of their vicious and gluttonous actions, either by the Ohians during the Toledo War (over a disputed strip of land around Toledo) or by the Indians who saw how aggressively the land was being taken. Michigan is also known as the Lake State, or the Great Lakes State (which appeared on the state licence plates) for its proximity to Lake Michigan, but this name conflicts with the "Lake States", given to the states which border the Great Lakes. To avoid this conflict, some have turned it into the Lady of the Lake and the more remote Water Wonderland. Detroit's heavy car manufacturing industry has also led some to refer to the Auto State.
  The official nickname of Minnesota is the North Star State, and the state seal has the motto L'Etoile du Nord on it. It is also commonly known as the Gopher State, a nickname which dates back to around 1880 and is based on the fact that the American football team of the Minnesota State University were known as "The Golden Gophers" (a variety of squirrel) - but Arkansas also laid claim to the name 35 years earlier. Energetic supporters of the state have variously given it names like Bread and Butter State or Bread Basket of the Nation, Cream Pitcher of the Nation, and the Wheat State, all based on the state's production of wheat and dairy produce, and Playground of the Nation. The numerous lakes in the state have also led it to be known occasionally as the Land of 10,000 Lakes (in fact, Minnesota has more like 12,000 lakes) - Minnesota licence plates have 10,000 Lakes on them.
  In 1872, Mississippi was known as the Mudcat State, after a large catfish that lived in the river mud (a similar allusion may also have given it the less common nickname the Mud-Waddler State) . Bayou State dates from around 1867, and Eagle State is possibly a shortening of Border-Eagle State, which first appeared around 1846, and both may be from the eagle that appears on the state's seal. The state is also sometimes known as the Groundhog State or the Hospitality State (which appears on the licence plates) . However, the abundance of the magnolia, and its adoption as the official state flower and tree, has led to the modern nickname of the Magnolia State.
  Missouri has been known as the Iron Mountain State, Bullion State (from around 1848, and possibly an allusion to the nickname of Missouri senator Benton, who was known as "Old Bullion"), the Lead State, the Ozark State, the Puke State (possibly a corruption of "Pike", as there is a Pike County in Missouri, and another just across the river in Illinois), the Cave State, and the Pennsylvania of the West. The modern nickname of the Show Me State (which also appears on licence plates) was given national popularity at the end of the 19th century from a phrase included in a speech by a Missouri congressman, William Vandiver, although it had existed before then.
  In its early days, Montana was the Bonanza State (around 1893, and from the rich mineral deposits) and the Stub-Toe State (from 1890, and an allusion to its steep mountain slopes). But the rich gold and silver deposits have led it now to be known as the Treasure State, although the wide open spaces have also produced Big Sky Country (which is what appears on the state's licence plates)
Nebraska (The Cornhusker State - 1945)
  In 1922, Nebraska was sometimes known as the Antelope State, and the Black Water State. But the legislatures has already passed an act in 1895 which declared the state as the Tree Planters State, and its licence plates showed the Beef State. The dark colour of its rivers resulted in some calling it the Black Water State in around 1916. Others have called it the Bugeating State, after a nickname of "Bug-eaters" given to Nebraskans, a derogatory term based on the poverty-stricken appearance of the state. In 1945, the original nickname (which also appears on licence plates) was replaced by the Cornhusker State, where "Cornhusker" was originally applied to the University of Nebraska's athletic and football teams.
  Having been admitted to the Union during the Civil War, Nevada adopted the Battle-Born State as its nickname, and this is still used today, having been officially adopted as the staet slogan in 1937. Facetious nicknames, like Divorce State have appeared (in this case, due to the rise of Reno and Las Vegas), but the state was more seriously known as Silverland (traced back to 1863, from the wealth of silver deposits). This eventually became the Silver State (a nickname challenged by Colorado, but which is what appears on the state's licence plates today), and also led to the Mining State. However, the Sagebrush State (challenged by Wyoming) is more common (the sagebrush being the state's official flower), occasionally shortened to Sage State
New Hampshire
  Back in 1830, New Hampshire was known as the Granite State, and this nickname has prevailed to the present day (there was once a huge industry based on the quarrying of granite). On the way, various other nicknames have appeared, such as White Mountain State, Switzerland of America (both because of the abundance of white-topped mountains) and the Mother of Rivers (because of the many rivers which start in the white mountains). New Hampshire licence plates declare the state motto, Live Free or Die!
New Jersey (no official nickname)
  In the 1880s, New York suffered plagues of insects which originated in the marshes of New Jersey, which led the state to be known as the Mosquito State. The clam fisheries on the coast led some to call it the Clam State, and others called it Switzerland of America (one of five states to be so-called). The famous "Camden and Aboy Railroad" led to the state sometimes being known as the Camden and Aboy State, and the blue uniforms of the Civil war gave it the Jersey Blue State. But these days New Jersey is simply known as the Garden State, a name coined by Abraham Browning in a speech at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, and which has, despite the objection and veto of the governor, appeared officially on state licence plates since about 1954.
New Mexico
  New Mexico has been known as the Sunshine State, a name recorded from around 1926, as well as the Cactus State, and the Spanish State. Enthusiastic supporters have variously regaled New Mexico with Land of Cactus, Land of the Delight Makers, Land of Opportunity, Land of Heart's Desires and Land of Enchantment, but it is the last of these which has stuck and which appears on licence plates.
New York
  The state motto is "Excelsior", and some have called New York the Excelsior State. The trousers worn by the early Dutch settlers resulted in the Knickerbocker State It has also sometimes been known as the Gateway to the West. But, when George Washington referred to New York state as "the seat of Empire" in 1784, he set the seed for the state's long-term nickname which appeared in around 1820 - the Empire State. It is this which appears on state licence plates.
North Carolina
  Once commonly known as the Old North State, because of its position and history, North Carolina has some beautiful mountain country which led it to also be known as the Land of the Sky. But the modern day nickname of the Tarheel State goes back to the mid 19th century. North Carolinians were known as "tarboilers" as early as 1845, also as "Tar Heels". Why they were so called is not really known - one suggestion is that a brigade of North Carolinians failed to hold a position during the war in 1869, and Mississippians blamed the fact that they had failed to tar their heels that morning. By 1844, the state was being called the Tar and Turpentine State, and by 1859 just Turpentine State. The Wright Brothers launched their first flight in North Carolina, and this has led to First In Flight, a nickname or motto which now appears on car licence plates, along with First in Freedom
North Dakota
  A local ground squirrel, the flickertail, gave North Dakota its Flickertail State nickname (an attempt to make this the official nickname in 1953 was defeated), and the Indian tribes its Sioux State and Land of the Dakota .Its importance led it to be sometimes known as Great Central State. But the International Peace Gardens (crossing the northern border of the state into Manitoba) have given the state its modern nickname (and car licence plate slogan) of the Peace Garden State (it's worth noting that some references incorrectly give "Peach Garden State", which is a transcription error that seems to have propagated through many works!) - it first appeared on licence plates in 1956, and in 1957 the legislature formally required it to appear on licence plates.North Dakota was also known as the Roughrider State (an allusion to the "Rough Rider" cavalry that Theodore Roosevelt is supposed to have led) and this name was used in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a tourist campaign, but attempts in 1971 and 1973 to have this replace "Peace Garden State" on licence plates failed.
  During the very early part of the 19th century, Ohio was sometimes known as the Yankee State since many settlers had come from New England, but that's a nickname that was given up a long time ago. Some of the state's proponents claimed Mother of Presidents, (sometimes Mother of Modern Presidents) having been where more than half a dozen presidents had started their lives (it's a name that Virginia once used). But the state tree, a variety of horse chestnut, gives the state its current nickname of the Buckeye State - although its adoption owes a lot to William Henry Harrison who, during the 1840 presidential adopted a log cabin made of buckeye timber as his emblem, and many of his supporters would carry buckeye canes. Ohio licence plates declare The Heart of it All
  Even before the land was thrown open to white settlement, many early settlers snuck across the border and made claims there. When the first official settlers were allowed across, they found these "sooners" already in possession of the land that they were hoping to take. This led to the state being called the Sooner State. Those who had waited patiently for the canon's "boom", a signal that they could cross into Oklahoma, resulted in the much rarer nickname Boomer State, or Boomer's Paradise. According to some Oklahoma licence plates, Oklahoma is OK!
  Through the years, Oregon has various been called the Sunshine State (yes, another one!), Webfoot State (derived from the nickname given to residents, because of the high level of rainfall) and Hard-case State (named after the evil characters who flocked to the state in its early days, and from their austere descendants). But Oregon's state animal is the beaver (since 1969), and it is a widely recognised symbol for the state - which has led the State University athletic team to be known as "the Beavers", and state to being called the Beaver State. Oregon licence plates call the state Pacific Wonderland
  One of the oldest state nicknames (and that which appeasr on its licence plates) is the Keystone State, probably applied to Pennsylvania from the late 18th century (although the first official citation is from 1802, when at a rally Pennsylvania was toasted as "the keystone in the union"). The industry of Pennsylvania once gave it the nicknames of the Coal State and Steel State, but these have long drifted into oblivion. Philadelphia is known as "The Quaker City", a name which was sometimes been transferred to Pennsylvania itself as the Quaker State.
Rhode Island (no official nickname)
  The smallest state (but the one with the longest full name of "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations") is often just called Little Rhody, dating back perhaps as early as 1851 (and more recently, the Smallest State). In 1847, it was being referred to as the Plantation State (a reference to the state's full name). Because of its position, its other common nickname (mainly for the benefit of tourists) is the Ocean State, and this is what appears on its licence plates.
South Carolina
  The palmetto palm (a variety of fan palm) has been associated with South Carolina since colonial days, and the first appearance of Palmetto State (the nickname used in modern times) appears to have been around 1843. But numerous other nicknames have emerged over the years - Rice State, the Swamp State, the Iodine State (used to promote iodine-rich produce) and the Sand-lapper State. It is also sometimes known as the Keystone of the South Atlantic, and the Seaboard State. State licence plates use the first words of the song - Nothing Could be Finer
South Dakota (The Mount Rushmore State - 1980)
  When Dakota split into two parts, South Dakota became variously known as the Blizzard State, the Artesian State (for the many artesian wells in the state), and the Land of Plenty. It was also known as the Sunshine State a name, which unlike the other three, was retained and which was depicted on the state flag until 1980. In that year, South Dakota deferred to Florida's claim on the nickname and relaunched the state officially as the Mount Rushmore State, which appears in words on the state flag. The other common nickname is The Coyote State, which comes from the prairie wolf, named by the Nahuatl Indians as the "coyotl", from which we get "Coyote" (and which is also a nickname for the residents of the state). Licence plates declare Great Faces, Great Places.
  Tennessee is known officially (by some accounts) and on its licence plates as the Volunteer State, a name which goes back (depending on which reference you use) either to 1812, when the volunteer soldiers showed particular courage in the Battle of New Orleans, or to 1847 when the Governor called for three regiments to serve in the Mexican War, and 30,000 men volunteered. The state was also known as the Lion's Den, back in 1843, possibly because border ruffians were then known as "lions of the West". Tennessee is named after the Indian name for the state, which means "The River with the Big Bend", and which led to The Big Bend State, and the diet of fatback pig and cornmeal (both abundant produce in the state) gave it the Hog and Hominy State (it is also sometimes known as the Hog State, and the Hominy State). Tennessee remembers the fact that it was the home of three US Presidents, in the nickname Mother of Southwestern Statesmen. The tan colour of Tennessee soldiers' uniforms in the War Between the States gave them the nickname of "butternuts" (after the squash), and the state is sometimes known as the Butternut State as a result.
Texas (no official nickname)
  Probably no state has a more well-known nickname than Texas - the Lone Star State (which is how it is described on its licence plates). It represents the symbol on the 1836 Texas Republic flag (itself based on history going back to the "Long Expedition" in 1819), and on the state flag and seal of today. Despite its prominence, the nickname is purely traditional and has not been enshrined in legislation. Many attempts have been made to apply other nicknames to the state, with various levels of success. Its huge cattle "industry" led it to be known as the Beef State for a while, and its size gave it the Jumbo State. In 1961, the New Yorker called it the Super-American State, and others have tried for the Banner State, and the Blizzard State.
  The first settlers in Utah were the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, also called the Mormons. Their hard work and great influence in the state has given Utah most of its various nicknames. Its common, and long-standing, nickname, the is Mormon State, of which there are a couple of variations - such as Land of the Mormons and Land of the Saints. The Mormons named the state "Deseret" when they arrived, and so Utah was also sometimes known as the Deseret State. "Deseret", from the Book of Mormon, is actually a honeybee, and the early Mormon settlers were described as having carried with them "swarms of bees". This is what gave the state its symbol (officially adopted in 1959) of a conical beehive with a swarm of bees around it (on the state flag), and the nickname of the Beehive State. The only "non-Mormon" nickname is the Salt Lake State, but even this is closely linked with the Mormons, who first settled in what is now known as Salt Lake City, next to the great Salt Lake.
  I can find no reference to any other nickname for Vermont other than the Green Mountain State (which, not surprisingly, is also on the licence plates). This name comes from "Green Mountain Boy", a name for an inhabitant going back to 1772, in turn named after the militia of the previous year which was organised to protect the state against the New Yorkers (and, of course, derives from the state's name itself, coined in 1761 by Rev Dr Peters, who named the mountains "Verd Mont", meaning "green mountain", which itself probably came from the "Green Mountains" which were named by Samuel de Champlain in 1647).
  Virginia has the oldest citation for any state nickname. Old Dominion has its first recorded sighting in 1778, but this derives from Ancient Dominion, the nickname for the state from the end of the 17th century. It is also known as the Mother of States, being the first state to be colonised (a name not attributed to Virginia until 1855, whereas Connecticut had been given the name in 1838), and Mother of Presidents, because Virginia supplied seven of the first twelve of the US Presidents. Some also developed this last name into Mother of Statesmen. The early British loyalists who settled in the states were Cavaliers, and this gave the state another nickname, the Cavalier State. Virginia's licence plates are a little less ambitious, and simply declare Visit Virginia!
  The many conifer forests of Washington state produced the nickname the Evergreen State, coined by Seattle Realtor and historian, C.T. Conver. Although numerous references say that the nickname was officially adopted by the legislature in 1893, the Washington legislature's own Web site says that it "has never been officially adopted by law". It is also known as the Green Tree State, which appears on its licence plates. Before that, the Chinook Indians lent their name to the Chinook State, a nickname which has been traced back to 1890.
West Virginia
  West Virginia is one of the states which attempted to lay claim to the Switzerland of America, but is more usually known (including on licence plates) as the Mountain State. The shape of the state also gave West Virginia The Panhandle State.
  Wisconsin inhabitants are "badgers", and Wisconsin is the Badger State. The name appears to have arisen from the early lead miners who worked at the Illinois Galena lead mines in the 1830s. These mines are close to where Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin meet, and were also responsible for giving the "Sucker" and "Puke" nicknames to those from Illinois and Iowa. However, "badger" arose not from the burrowing in the lead mines, but because those from Wisconsin did not live in houses, but in caves in the hillside that looked like badger burrows. They earned the nickname at the mines, and took it back on their return to Wisconsin. Interestingly, Wisconsin adopted the badger as the official state animal in 1957. But Wisconsin is predominantly a dairy state, producing 40% of the country's cheese, and 20% of its butter - not surprisingly, then, the state is sometimes nicknamed the Dairy State, America's Dairyland (which is how it appears on licence plates) or even the Cheese State.
  The first grant of suffrage in the US was made in Wyoming in 1869, leading to the state being called the Suffrage State or the current Equality State. But the state's symbol is a cowboy on a bucking bronco, leading to some calling it the Cowboy State. Wyoming's licence plates declare, Like No Place on Earth.