Try this nickname game

You may or may not have a nickname, but every state has at least one. How many do you know? And how did they get such names, anyway? See if you can match the nicknames on the left with the state names on the right. In the answers, we tell you how the nicknames came to be.

1. The Centennial State

2. The Golden State

3. The Gem State

4. The Constitution State

5. The Volunteer State

6. The Cornhusker State

7. The Equality State

8. The Hawkeye State

9. The Wolverine State

10. The Sooner State

A. Colorado

B. Oklahoma

C. Delaware

D. Nebraska

E. Tennessee

F. Iowa

G. California

H. Michigan

I. Wyoming

J. Idaho


(1) A. Colorado is the Centennial State because it entered the Union in 1876, 100 years after the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence.

(2) G. California is called the Golden State largely because of the Gold Rush that began in 1848. But it also has fields of golden poppies that bloom throughout the state in the spring.

(3) J. In the 1860s, people were led to believe that "Idaho" was derived from a Shoshone Indian phrase ("E Dah Hoe") that supposedly meant "Gem of the Mountains." But the name was actually made up by George Willing, who pulled it out of thin air. Still, the nickname caught on.

(4) C. Delaware was the first of the original 13 states to ratify the US Constitution. Thus it is known as the First State.

(5) E. Tennessee has been called the Volunteer State since the War of 1812, when citizens responded to a call to enlist from Gov. Willie Blount. Volunteer soldiers from Tennessee displayed great valor in the Battle of New Orleans, fighting under the command of Gen. Andrew Jackson.

(6) D. A sportswriter named Charles "Cy" Sherman gave Nebraska its nickname. Sherman, who wrote for the Nebraska State Journal, first used the term in 1900 to describe the athletic teams at the University of Nebraska. The name quickly replaced earlier team nicknames - "Old Gold Knights," "Bugeaters" - and soon was applied to the state as a whole. Before husking machinery was available, Nebraska's abundant corn harvests were husked by hand.

(7) J. Wyoming was the first state where women could vote (1869), serve on juries (1870), and hold public office (1894). Hence, The Equality State.

(8) F. The "Hawkeye" nickname for Iowa was first suggested in 1838 by James Edwards, a newspaper editor, as a way to honor Chief Black Hawk, leader of the Sac people. They were forced to relocate to Iowa from Illinois in 1832 after losing the Black Hawk War.

(9) H. One account says that "The Wolverine State" nickname for Michigan was bestowed by Ohioans around 1835. A dispute had erupted over the Toledo Strip, which borders the two states. Ohioans reportedly described the Michigan settlers as being as bloodthirsty and vicious as wolverines.

(10) B. Oklahoma was Indian Territory until 1889, when it was opened to settlers. Thousands waited at the border until the signal was given, and then rushed in to stake claims. But some sneaked in early - the "Sooners."

SOURCES: Welcome to California home page,; Colorado State Archives,;, produced by the Government Information Center:; Michigan Great Things to Say and Do,; Welcome, to Salina, Okla.,; Tennessee Secretary of State,; Welcome to the State of Wyoming,; 'State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols,' by Benjamin Shearer and Barbara Shearer, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994; The State of Idaho Home Page,; The American History and Geneology Page,;; Compton's online encyclopedia; The Illinois Humanities Council,; University of Nebraska-Lincoln, /

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