How Every State Got Its Nickname

Illinois: The Prairie State

grass prairiephotokin/Shutterstock

Illinois has been known as "The Prairie State" since at least 1842, but in recent years, there's been a grassroots push to change that to "The Land of Lincoln," which is the name that appears on "Welcome to Illinois" signs along interstate highways. Critics of the nickname "The Prairie State" argue that "Prairie" doesn't do much to distinguish Illinois from other states with vast amounts of flat grassy land, including the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Indiana: The Hoosier State

glass of champagne on the background of friends at a partyOleksandr Nagaiets/Shutterstock

This nickname came into general usage in the 1930s, according to the Indiana State Library, as a result of John Finley's poem, "The Hoosier's Nest," which was published in the Indianapolis Journal, on New Year's Day 1833. A few days later, on January 8, 1833, at the Jackson Day dinner at Indianapolis, a prominent Indianian toasted "The Hoosier State of Indiana." The name stuck—although the original spelling of "Hoosher" did not.

Iowa: The Hawkeye State


The nickname, "The Hawkeye State" is believed to have come from the name of a character in a James Fenimore Cooper novel, The Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826. Two men who were promoting the state pushed the name into popularity, the story goes, and the nickname was approved as official in 1838, eight years before Iowa became a state. Because of the state's vast corn farmland, it's also occasionally known as the "Corn State."

That was How Every State Got Its Nickname

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