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.
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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."
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
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."
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
This state is named after the national park and landform existing almost entirely within its borders.
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
This state nickname reflects the beauty of the state itself, with many natural features across the landscape.
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
Many things in this state have revolved around gold since 1848—including flowers, bridges, minerals, and more.
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.