April 23, 2014 16:55 UTC

Words and Their Stories

Words and Their Stories: State Nicknames, Part 1

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Visitors at the Grand Canyon's Yavapai PointVisitors at the Grand Canyon's Yavapai Point
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Visitors at the Grand Canyon's Yavapai Point
Visitors at the Grand Canyon's Yavapai Point

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Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

A nickname is a shortened form of a person's name. A nickname can also be a descriptive name for a person, place or thing.

America's fifty states have some of the most historically interesting nicknames.

Alabama is known as the Heart of Dixie because it is in the very middle of a group of states in the Deep South. Dixie itself is a nickname for the American South. It started when Louisiana printed notes with the French word for "ten" on them. "Deece," or D-I-X, led to "Dixie."

Way up north, Alaska is called the Last Frontier for understandable reasons. Near the Arctic Circle, it was the final part of the nation to be explored and settled.

Arizona is the Grand Canyon State because of the famous winding canyon carved by the Colorado River. The southern state of Arkansas is the Land of Opportunity. The state legislature chose this nickname. Arkansas is rich in natural resources and has become a favorite place for older people to retire.

In a popular Spanish book, a fictional island called "California" was filled with gold. Sure enough, plenty of it was discovered in the real California, in eighteen forty-eight. This started a gold rush unlike any other in American history in the Golden State.

You would think Colorado would be known as the Rocky Mountain State. But its nickname is the Centennial State. That is because it became a state in eighteen seventy-six, exactly one hundred years after the nation declared its independence.

Connecticut is called the Nutmeg State after a spice. Connecticut Yankees, as people in this northeast state are called, are known to be smart in business. So smart that it was said they could sell wooden, meaning false, nutmegs to strangers.

Little Delaware is called the First State because it was the first state -- the first to approve the new United States Constitution.

The southern state of Florida likes to tell about its sunny days and fine beaches. So Florida is the Sunshine State. Florida's neighbor to the north grows some of the sweetest fruit in America. So Georgia is the Peach State.

Hawaii, far out in the Pacific Ocean, is the Aloha State. That is the friendly greeting that means both "hello" and "goodbye" in the native Hawaiian language. So, aloha for now. Next week we will tell you about the nicknames of more American states.

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by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
11/23/2012 12:50 AM
Vow! How many strange, beautiful and exciting nicknames that each American state has got! And it adds color and fragrance to our joy when coming to know that all those names have a special age-old story to tell. They must have been born out of true experience accompanied by regularity. All those expressions yell at the top of one's voice the rich heritage of America. I have a vaulting ambition that if I were onlt there to see all these before I kick the bucket. Thank you.


by: Shige from: Japan
11/22/2012 3:05 AM
It is so interesting. I think American people like to shorten person's name.But in Japan, there is no tendency like it. I don't know why there is a difference about nickneme between America and Japan.


by: Nonato from: Brazil
11/21/2012 1:59 AM
Oklahoma - the Sooner State.


by: Iwan Agusnawan from: Ciamis Jawa Barat Indones
11/20/2012 11:53 PM
talking about the last frontier I miss Alaska so much Juneu, Ketchikan, Anchorage ...Sitka ...


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/19/2012 4:58 AM
Thank you very much VOA for a very popular feature again. These stories telling about nicknames of each states help me learn their locations. Some states seem to have a few of nicknames. For example, Frolida, adding to the Sunshine State, has the Peninsular, the Alligator, and Everglade State. For the honor of the Nutmeg State, Connecticut seems also called as the Constitution State where the constitution was written. By the way, the nickname of Alabama, the Heart of Dixie suggests Southern United States ordinally include ten states. From Virsinia and North Carolina in the east to Texas in the west. Can I understand that Floida is usually excluded from the Southen United States?


by: sue from: japan
11/18/2012 1:52 AM
so interesting...! Dairy State - Wisconsin

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