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Can You Guess the U.S. State from Its Nickname?

See if you know your Sooner State from your Show-Me State with these 20 questions.

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the empire stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #1

A. New Jersey

B. New Mexico

C. New York

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New YorkNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


New York has one of the best-known state nicknames, thanks to that giant building in New York City that you may have heard of.

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the Lone star stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #2

A. Texas

B. California

C. Minnesota

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texasNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


The single star on the state flag of Texas has been used to represent that state since as early as 1819, when “the Long expedition” embarked to the land that would become Texas in hopes of winning it from Mexico. This state nickname is not to be confused with Minnesota’s, which is “the North Star State.” Test your knowledge of 17 state flags with this quiz.

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the garden stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #3

A. Kansas

B. New Jersey

C. North Dakota

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new jerseyNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


If you saw the 2004 romantic comedy film written by and starring Zach Braff, you might already be familiar with this state nickname. If you mixed it up with North Dakota, that’s understandable; North Dakota’s nickname is “the Peace Garden State.” These are the best movies set in every state in America.

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the sooner stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #4

A. Ohio

B. Massachusetts

C. Oklahoma

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oklahomaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


In 1889, the U.S. government opened up nearly two acres of land that would become Oklahoma to would-be settlers. People lined up right on the border, ready to rush into the territory as soon as it became available. Some people, though, entered the territory even before then. These eager folks earned the nickname—you guessed it—”Sooners.”

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the show-me stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #5

A. California

B. Missouri

C. Mississippi

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missouriNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


The St. Louis Arch’s home state is known as “the Show-Me State” thanks to a man named Willard Vandiver. Legend has it that Vandiver, a long-ago Missouri Congressman, claimed in 1899, “frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri, and you have got to show me.” Missourians gained the reputation of being difficult to fool, and today their license plates boast that they are “the Show-Me State.”

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the ocean stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #6

A. Rhode Island

B. Hawaii

C. California

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rhode islandNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


The smallest state in America does boast some beautiful beaches. Despite that, though, the “Ocean State” nickname might be better suited to the U.S. state with the longest coastline—Alaska. Alaska’s coastline, in fact, is longer than those of all 49 other states combined. Learn a surprising fact about every U.S. state.

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the first stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #7

A. Virginia

B. Delaware

C. Pennsylvania

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delawareNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


Don’t let the history books trip you up on this one. When you learn about colonial America, you might hear about Jamestown, Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But none of those states was actually the first. Delaware was the first state to officially ratify the United States Constitution in 1787, making it “the First State.” It’s not where the oldest city in America is located, though.

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the hawkeye stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #8

A. Indiana

B. Iowa

C. Idaho

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iowaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


No, this state is not named after the bow-and-arrow-wielding superhero. The “Hawkeye State” nickname is a tribute to Native American Chief Black Hawk, who died in 1838 in the area that would become southeast Iowa.

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the pine tree stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #9

A. Washington

B. Oregon

C. Maine

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maineNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


There are about 12 million acres of forests in the sparsely inhabited north of Maine, and the white pine tree is an official state symbol. On the other side of the northern U.S., the state of Washington also has a nickname dedicated to its forests: the Evergreen State.

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the pelican stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #10

A. Florida

B. Louisiana

C. Mississippi

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louisianaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


A certain variety of these big-beaked birds, known as the brown pelican, is native to Louisiana. The brown pelican is also the national bird of Caribbean island nations Barbados, Saint Martin, and Turks and Caicos.

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the volunteer stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #11

A. Tennessee

B. Oregon

C. Michigan

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Surprisingly, this state nickname has less to do with neighbor helping neighbor and more to do with war. During the War of 1812, a group of volunteer soldiers from Tennessee fought in the Battle of New Orleans. Do you know the correct answers to these history questions everyone gets wrong?

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Nicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #12

A. Oregon

B. Ohio

C. Wisconsin

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Oregon’s is one of a few state nicknames inspired by the wildlife. Oregon is nicknamed after its state animal, the American beaver; Louisiana is the Pelican State; Utah is the Beehive State; and Wisconsin is the Badger State.

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the mountain stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #13

A. Colorado

B. West Virginia

C. Vermont

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west virginiaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


You might be tempted to think of the Rockies when you think of mountains in America, but it’s West Virginia who gets a state nickname inspired by purple mountain majesties. The Appalachian mountain range covers most of this southeastern state. And it’s not the only one with a mountainous state nickname—Vermont is the Green Mountain State. Here are some surprising facts about America that you didn’t learn in school.

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the land of enchantmentNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #14

A. Hawaii

B. New Mexico

C. Nevada

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new mexicoNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


New Mexico bucks the trend, as it’s one of only two state nicknames that doesn’t contain the word “state.” The other one… is later on in this quiz! Stay tuned.

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mount rushmore stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #15

A. Montana

B. Wyoming

C. South Dakota

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south dakotaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


You know Mount Rushmore is one of America’s most famous monuments, but did you know which state it was in?

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the last frontierNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #16

A. California

B. Alaska

C. Hawaii

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alaskaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


Hawaii might be the last state added to the Union, but it’s the 49th state, Alaska, that claims to be “the Last Frontier.” Even today, much of the land in Alaska is very lightly settled. Read up more about how the state capitals got their names.

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the natural stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #17

A. Arizona

B. Arkansas

C. Alabama

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arkansasNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


This is a tricky one—every one of the U.S. states is full of natural beauty. But it’s Arkansas, with its 52 separate state parks, that gets a direct shout-out to its natural beauty on its license plates. Check out our bucket list ideas for every state in America.

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the bay stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #18

A. Maryland

B. California

C. Massachusetts

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massachusettsNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


This small New England state is famous for Cape Cod—that piece of land jutting out of the East Coast that looks a bit like an arm muscle. Cape Cod Bay is located to the north and west of Cape Cod.

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the silver stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #19

A. Nevada

B. Colorado

C. Arizona

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nevadaNicole Fornabaio/, shutterstock


In 1853, a massive deposit of silver ore was discovered in what was then called the Utah Territory, land that would eventually become part of Nevada. During the ensuing “silver rush,” silver would be found in other U.S. states, including Arizona and Colorado, only in Nevada does it get a shout-out in the state nickname.

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the granite stateNicole Fornabaio/

Nickname #20

A. North Carolina

B. Connecticut

C. New Hampshire

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In the past, New Hampshire’s economy relied heavily on granite mining. Today, New Hampshire’s quarries still produce thousands of tons of granite every year. If you’re an expert on state nicknames, see how you fare with our state capitals quiz.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.