October 31, 2014 16:24 UTC

Words and Their Stories

The Gem State, the Land of Lincoln and the Crossroads of America...

By day, Kentucky's Cumberland Falls are spectacular, by night they are magical
By day, Kentucky's Cumberland Falls are spectacular, by night they are magical
Come to the Gem State, the Land of Lincoln and the Crossroads of America...
Come to the Gem State, the Land of Lincoln and the Crossroads of America...i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

As we told you last week, every American state has a nickname. Here are some more of them.

Idaho is known as the "Gem State." This is not because it has diamonds but because it believes it is the jewel of the western Rocky Mountains.

Illinois is the "Land of Lincoln." It is named for Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president who led the nation through the Civil War in the 1860s.

The Midwestern state of Indiana is called the "Hoosier State," but nobody is quite sure why. One story is that the word was used to mean poor farmers or uneducated people. No wonder the state legislature instead calls Indiana the "Crossroads of America."

Iowa's nickname -- the "Hawkeye State" -- is in honor of Black Hawk, an Indian chief who spent most of his life in neighboring Illinois!

Kansas also has a "hawkish" nickname: the "Jayhawk State." Jayhawkers were free-state guerrilla fighters opposed to the pro-slavery fighters in the years before the Civil War.

Kentucky is the "Bluegrass State." Bluegrass is really bright green but looks bluish from a distance. Louisiana is the "Bayou State." A bayou is a slow-moving stream. Hundreds of them flow through this southern state -- and many are full of alligators!

Maine, in the nation's northeast, is the "Pine Tree State" because it is covered in evergreen woods. And directly across the country, on the Pacific Coast, is the state of Washington. It also has lots of evergreen trees so, not surprisingly, it is the "Evergreen State."

The eastern state of Massachusetts is the "Bay State." This body of water separates most of the state from famous Cape Cod.

Six state nicknames are taken from native animals. Michigan is the "Wolverine State." A wolverine is a small, fierce mammal. The badger is a similar and equally fierce creature, and Wisconsin is the "Badger State."

Neighboring Minnesota -- the "Gopher State" -- is named for a much nicer animal that builds hills and tunnels. However, the "Land of Ten Thousand Lakes" is written on Minnesota's vehicle license plates.

North Dakota gets its nickname -- the "Flickertail State" -- not from some bird, but from a little squirrel. South Dakota takes its nickname -- the "Coyote State" -- from an animal that thinks flickertails are good to eat!

And Oregon -- the "Beaver State" -- borrows its nickname from the large, flat-tailed rodent that uses trees to build dams.

Next week, we will tell you about more state nicknames, including one that is about people's feet!

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/26/2012 2:23 AM
The gopher state, Minnesota for sure seems have ten thousand of lakes including the lake Superior. I didn't know the Mississippi river originates from Minessota state. Minessota state connects to the Mexican gulf by the Missippi, to the Atrantic Ocean by St. Lawrence canal and also to the Arctic Ocean through the Gulf of Hadson. What a great state it is !

Learn with The News

  • A convoy of peshmerga vehicles is escorted by Turkish Kurds on their way to the Turkish-Syrian border, in Kiziltepe near the southeastern city of Mardin October 29, 2014

    Audio Iraqi Kurdish Fighters Enter Kobani

    Also in the news, Burkina Faso ends efforts to extend its presidential term limit after protests in the capital. Ukraine says the EU will be guarantor in any gas deal with Russia. Myanmar holds a major meeting Friday. And claims of cheating delay SAT results for South Korean and Chinese students. More

  • Video Singapore Film Ban Raises Free Speech Issue

    The documentary film, “To Singapore, with Love” tells about political dissidents from Singapore. The film has been shown at public events in Britain, India and Malaysia, among other countries. But one place the movie cannot be seen is Singapore. That is because the government there has banned it. More

  • Ghana Bamboo Bike

    Video Ghana's Bamboo Bikes Hit the Streets

    Bicycle frames are usually made out of materials like carbon fiber, steel or aluminum. But in rural Ghana, a businessman has developed another way to make bicycles from a natural product -- bamboo. The wooden bike parts are sent Ghana to Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. | As It Is More

  • Believer Benito Martinez (C), dressed as a "devil" wearing a mask, walks around in Almonacid del Marquesado, in central Spain, during the "Endiablada" traditional festival, Feb. 3, 2014.

    Audio A Halloween Special: The Devil is Everywhere ...

    Today we take you to the Dark Side. (insert evil laugh here) We teach expressions that involve the king of evil – the devil. Read on to learn how to “speak of the devil”, “to play devil’s advocate” and to ”make a deal with the devil.” | Words and Their Stories More

  • Orbital Sciences Antares Launch

    Video Questions for NASA after Rocket Explosion

    An unmanned privately-owned rocket bringing supplies to the International Space Station exploded seconds after launch Tuesday night. The accident did not cause any injuries on the ground. However, it has raised questions about efforts by the US space agency NASA to use private companies. More

Featured Stories

  • Obama Halloween

    Audio Halloween Is Big with Kids and Business

    The National Retail Federation says sales of Halloween goods will total about $7.4 billion this year. It says the average American will spend about $77. The group expects 162 million people to celebrate. The NRF predicts 54 million of them will hold Halloween parties. | American Mosaic More

  • A print shows the Second Battle of Bull Run, also called Second Manassas.

    Audio South Defeats North Again at Manassas

    Lincoln named George Pope to lead the Army of Virginia. He wanted to join Pope’s forces with the Army of the Potomac and break through Confederate defenses around Richmond. But General Robert E. Lee decided to hit Pope first. More

  • Star House

    Video Home of Last Comanche Chief Close to Ruins

    One of the most interesting people in U.S. history is Quanah Parker, the last chief of the country’s Comanche Indian tribe. Quanah Parker was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Quanah Parker was a fierce fighter. More

  • FILE - A veterinarian at the nonprofit Bali Animal Welfare Association gives a rabies shot to a puppy in Kebon Kaja village, Bangli Regency in Bali, Indonesia.

    Audio Mass Vaccination of Dogs Can Eliminate Rabies

    About 70,000 people worldwide die every year of rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that people get mainly through dog bites. Scientists say vaccinating dogs can effectively get rid of rabies outbreaks in dog populations. And this will have a domino effect, fewer humans with rabies. More

  • Methane oxidizing

    Photogallery Small Organisms in Deep Sea Rocks Eat Methane

    The gas methane has been linked to rising temperatures on Earth. But methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as another “greenhouse gas” -- carbon dioxide. Scientists say both gases trap heat from the sun. They prevent heat from escaping into outer space. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs