September 01, 2015 07:57 UTC

Words and Their Stories

Buckeyes, Sooners, Quakers, Volunteers and Cowboys

One of Vermont's many covered bridges
One of Vermont's many covered bridges

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
Buckeyes, Sooners, Quakers, Volunteers and Cowboys
Buckeyes, Sooners, Quakers, Volunteers and Cowboys i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

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

Today, we finish telling about the interesting nicknames that have been given to the fifty American states.

​The state of Ohio is in the midwest. It is named the "Buckeye State" after a tree that produces nuts similar to chestnuts.

The Great Plains state of Oklahoma is called the "Sooner State." That is because of a sale of land in 1889. Some people arrived in the territory to claim their land earlier than they were supposed to. They cheated and got there "sooner."

Pennsylvania's nickname is the "Keystone State." Just as a keystone holds together a stone arch, Pennsylvania was seen as holding together the young American republic.

Pennsylvania is also sometimes called the "Quaker State." Its founder -- William Penn, and most of his followers -- were members of the Protestant Quaker religion.

Rhode Island's nickname is "Little Rhody" because of its size. The state is smaller than the area around Los Angeles, California.

Tennessee got its nickname -- the "Volunteer State" -- because of the bravery of its citizens. They volunteered to join Tennessean Andrew Jackson to defend the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, against the British army in the War of 1812.

Texas is called the "Lone Star State." It gets its nickname from the single star on its flag. This represents the short time Texas was an independent nation battling Mexico for self-rule.

The "Beehive State" of Utah has no more beehives than any other state. The nickname is from the Mormon Church's symbol for hard work.

The eastern state of Vermont is proud of its beautiful Green Mountains so it calls itself the "Green Mountain State." The southern state of Virginia is called the "Old Dominion." Long ago, King Charles II of England added the colony's coat of arms to his shield. It joined his other dominions of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

West Virginia broke away from Virginia in the 1860s. It is called simply the "Mountain State" for the ancient Appalachian mountains.

And we have saved perhaps the most American nickname for last. The western state of Wyoming was once an area where cattle were transported east. And where there are cattle, there are men -- and now women -- to move them. So Wyoming is the "Cowboy State."

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio US Preparing Sanctions Against China

    The United States is preparing to act against Chinese who steal trade secrets using the Internet. The actions could freeze accounts and block the transfer of money. They would target thieves who use the Internet to steal U.S. trade secrets. More

  • Audio EU Officials to Hold Talks on Migrant Crisis

    The talks will involve home and justice ministers from EU member countries. Luxembourg, the EU’s current president, says the meeting will take place on September 14 in Brussels. The International Organization for Migration says more than 322,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea. More

  • Employees of Rivalry Games work on their computers at technology incubator MuckerLab, in Santa Monica, Calif.

    Video Los Angeles' Silicon Beach Becoming Like Silicon Valley

    America's high technology industry is centered in northern California. The area, known as Silicon Valley, is a short drive from San Francisco Bay. Silicon Valley is home to Google, Apple and other industry leaders. More

  • The north dome of the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru is seen in this handout photo from Ohio State University taken in 2003.

    Video Andean Glaciers Reveal Secrets of Climate Change

    Ice caps, very large sheets of ice, do not only exist at the earth’s poles. There are tropical ice caps in mountain ranges, too. The largest, the Quelccaya Ice Cap, is on top of the Andes Mountains in Peru. But the Quelccaya Ice Cap is melting quickly. More

  • Audio Thai Officials: More Arrest Orders for Bombing Suspects

    Also, US Reportedly Preparing Restrictions on Chinese Individuals, Companies; European minister call for meeting on the “exceptional” migrant crisis in Europe; And Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai visits Washington. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: Fun with Future Tenses

    English has several ways to talk about the future. It's one of the most flexible tenses in English. We visit some popular songs for examples of the future forms. Read and listen as the Everyday Grammar team shows you six ways to express an event in the future. You will not regret it! More

  • Video A Horseman in the Sky by Ambrose Bierce

    Carter Druse lived in Virginia, a southern state during the American Civil War. He had a tough decision to make - should he join the Confederate Army or the Union Army? Read this classic American Story to find out what decision he makes, and what it means to his father and fellow soldiers. More

  • Audio Betty Azar, 'Rock Star' of English Grammar

    It all started with a question from a student. The year was 1965. Betty Azar was teaching her first English as a Second Language class at the University of Iowa. A student from the Middle East asked Ms. Azar, “Why can’t I put a in front of water?’ As in ‘I drank a water.’” More

  • Audio Millions with Mental Illness Get Little or No Treatment

    The World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of people worldwide have a mental disorder. However, the WHO adds that most get little or no treatment. Learn the vocabulary needed to talk about this important study. More

  • Hoarding

    Video Could Organizing Your Home Change Your Life?

    A new movement in the United States is all about clearing away unnecessary things in your life. A Japanese cleaning expert on clutter is now the hot topic on playgrounds, at work and parties. But can cleaning out clutter really help you succeed at your job or lose weight? Read on to learn more. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs