April 27, 2015 20:42 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

  • Audio At ASEAN, Territorial Dispute Gets Delegates’ Attention

    Leaders from Southeast Asian nations are meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. The leaders have called for a peaceful settlement of competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. Their calls are a sign of growing tensions because of Chinese activities in the Spratly Islands. More

  • Audio Japanese Prime Minister Begins US Visit

    Trip comes as security relationship between US and Japan is changing, 70 years after the end of World War II. But few Japanese support a change in the country’s security policy. Korean-Americans expected to protest visit; they are angry about sexual slavery of Korean women in World War II. More

  • Photogallery Aid Arrives in Nepal, Death Toll Rises Above 4,000

    US calls Iran nuclear deal monitoring ‘most extensive’ ever; funeral Monday for black man who died in Police detention; Japanese Prime Minister in US; ASEAN conference begins in Malaysia; and, Australia claims corruption in drug trafficking trial in Indonesia | In the News More

  • Audio New Paris Concert Hall Hopes to Link Rich and Poor Music Lovers

    The new Paris Philharmonic concert hall opened earlier this year. Long before opening day, people questioned the large amount of money required to pay for the building. Now, the biggest problem is a social one. Can the concert hall influence a new generation of classical music lovers? More

  • Photogallery World Reaches Out to Nepal After Deadly Earthquake

    As reports of the death toll rise in Nepal, countries and relief organizations around the world are rushing to send personnel and supplies to aid the search and rescue effort. By Monday, the death toll has risen above 3,600. There are many more reportedly injured and homeless. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Islam Is the Fastest Growing Religion in the World

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, according to a new study. The Pew Research Center spent six years studying the demographics of population and religion around the world. What they found is that as the world population grows between 2010 and 2050, so will Islam. More

  • Audio When It Comes to Money, Black Is Better Than Red

    Colors come to the rescue when you want to describe a business that is making money or losing money. Judging from Jack Ma's smile at Alibaba's IPO at the New York Stock Exchange, he's making a lot of money. Also learn other useful banking terms. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: In, On and At

    Many learners have questions about English grammar rules for using prepositions of place and time. We present a few simple guidelines to help you put your prepositions in the right places. In English, though, there is always an ‘exception to the rule. More

  • Video Monkeys Rule the Ruins in Disney Documentary

    The new Disneynature film “Monkey Kingdom” centers on a troop of tocque macaques that live in a special place in Sri Lanka. The animals live under a strict social order. New mother Maya is low on that order and struggles for survival with her newborn, Kip. Danger and drama define their existence. More

  • Video Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, Part Three

    Today we complete the story of Benito Cereno, written by Herman Melville. As we told you in earlier parts of our story, rebel slaves seized the ship San Dominick off the coast of Chile. They killed many of its officers and crew. The captain, Benito Cereno, was ordered to sail to Senegal. But... More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs