10 Maryland Nicknames That Will Surprise You

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A Ferris wheel in a port near American flags and docked boats
Many monikers for the state of Maryland have intriguing origins and stories

Even though it's the Monumental State, it's easy to overlook Maryland. That's because, despite its rich history, it lacks the familiarity of more famous neighboring states like Virginia and Pennsylvania. Even its capital, Annapolis, has a smaller population than other major cities in the region, like Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

But despite its lesser-known reputation, Maryland has a long, rich history that has led to plenty of nicknames for the state. From its most popular monikers like the Old Line State and the Free State to water-based names like the Terrapin State and the Oyster State, you'll see Maryland referenced in many different ways.

In this article, you'll discover 10 of the most frequently used Maryland nicknames (although some are far more common than others) and the stories of how they came to be. So, keep reading if you're ready to learn some interesting tidbits about the Star-Spangled State, otherwise known as Maryland, and its most famous monikers.

10 Nicknames for Maryland

A turtle on the grass
Diamondback terrapins are the state animal of Maryland

Terrapin State

Maryland is known as the Terrapin State due to the reptile's prominence in the region's ecology. You'll find terrapins in abundance all throughout Chesapeake Bay (interesting Maryland fact: Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States). The Diamondback terrapin is even Maryland's official reptile.

You'll see references to terrapins all around the Terrapin State, including in academia. The terrapin has also been the mascot of the University of Maryland, College Park sports teams since 1933.

Old Line State

The Old Line State is one of Maryland's oldest nicknames. In fact, it dates back to the American Revolution and the exploits of the Maryland Line. The Maryland Line consisted of regular soldiers who fought beside George Washington and his Continental Army.

Some historians even believe the Old Line State nickname came from General Washington himself. They say Washington was impressed by the Maryland soldiers' courage early in the war at the Battle of Long Island. He referred to the regimen as his "old line."

A sailboat on the water under a blue sky with clouds
Maryland oysters keep the Chesapeake Bay clean and also inspired a state nickname

Oyster State

This may be one of the tastiest Maryland state nicknames! Maryland has earned the title of being the Oyster State thanks to the historical importance of the shellfish on the area's economy.

Although known as some of the best in the region, Maryland oysters aren't just good for eating. They also play an essential role in keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean. Plus, their reefs provide habitats for various other types of marine life.

The Maryland oyster industry has faced challenges from pollution and overharvesting in recent decades. Still, widespread efforts to combat these issues have put the oysters of the Oyster State on track for a healthy recovery.

Chesapeake Bay State

Maryland is known as the Chesapeake Bay State (sometimes written as the Chesapeake State) because of the significance of the Chesapeake Bay to the state's history, economy, and culture. Maryland has nearly 4,500 miles of shoreline along the Chesapeake and its tributaries.

The Chesapeake Bay has always been an important part of life for the residents of Maryland, so it's unsurprising that it would become known as the Chesapeake Bay State. Maryland's first colonial capital, St. Mary's City, was even founded on the Chesapeake's western shore.

Free State is one of the Maryland nicknames connected to its historic past
Maryland was first called the Free State when it abolished slavery in 1864

Free State

The Free State nickname was first given to Maryland in 1864. This was when the Maryland Constitution was updated to abolish slavery within the state's borders. But it would be nearly 60 years before the moniker gained everyday use, and even then, it was for a different reason.

In 1923, an editor for the Baltimore Sun, Hamilton Owens, penned a satirical article against prohibition. He stated that Maryland should secede from the Union rather than restrict the sale of alcohol. The article "The Maryland Free State" never got published, but Owens liked the nickname so much that he repeatedly used it in future pieces.

Cockade State

Another historical nickname, the Cockade State, dates back to the Revolutionary War. It references the colorful cockades (badges affixed to hats of the period) worn by the Maryland Line of regular soldiers.

The Maryland Line was one of the most respected regimens during the Revolutionary War, fighting alongside General Washington's Continental Army in numerous battles. The fighting spirit of the Line and their "brilliant cockades" forever earned Maryland the moniker of the Cockade State.

Aerial shot of a city by the water on a cloudy day
America in Miniature is a moniker that dates to the late 1920s

America in Miniature

It may not be the most common Maryland nickname, but you'll still often hear the state called America in Miniature. The slogan is a testament to the diversity you'll find throughout Maryland, from its natural ecosystems to its residents.

Maryland's America in Miniature nickname has its origins in a 1927 article in National Geographic, which called the state a "delightful geographic miniature of America." Even Maryland's agriculture sector has earned the title of America in Miniature because of the wide range of crops that are grown in the state.

Star-Spangled State

You've heard of "The Star-Spangled Banner," but did you know that Maryland is referred to as the Star-Spangled State? That's because "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written in Maryland during the War of 1812.

On September 14th, 1814, Baltimore attorney Francis Scott Key penned the famous poem as he watched the British army fail in their attack on Maryland's Fort McHenry. His words would become the country's national anthem in 1931.

In addition, one of the most unique landmarks in Maryland is the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. This is the home where the flag that was raised above Fort McHenry (which gave Key his inspiration) was created.

A small park with a bronze statue of an equestrian and a tall monument near buildings
Monumental State is one of the Maryland nicknames with historical context

Monumental State

Maryland inherited the nickname of the Monumental State from its largest city, Baltimore. As far back as 1823, Baltimore gained a reputation as the Monumental City because of the numerous monuments built in the area following the War of 1812.

The Monumental State nickname for Maryland and the Monumental City slogan gained even more widespread usage in 1827. That's when President John Quincy Adams toured Baltimore's Battle Monument, the under-construction memorial to George Washington, and the nearby Aquila Randall Monument.

That night at a dinner party, the president's official use of the Monumental City moniker in his toast put the nickname down in the history books for Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

Little America

Although it's a relatively uncommon nickname, you may sometimes hear and see Maryland referred to as Little America. The origination of this slogan is unclear, but it's generally thought to have developed from the state's America in Miniature motto.

While the phrasing is different, the meaning is the same: a trip around Maryland will make you feel like you're touring the whole country. Maryland represents a small version of America because of the uniquely varied ecosystems and residents you'll find here. Just like how America is a melting pot in every sense of the word, Maryland represents the same features and diversity, only on a much smaller scale.

In Summary

For such a compact state, Maryland has quite a few different nicknames. You have probably heard of some of the more common Maryland names, such as the Old Line State and the Free State, but did you know their origin? Especially that of the Old Line State, whose history dates back nearly 250 years.

Still, even the most dedicated Marylander probably learned something new in this article. That's because some of these nicknames are pretty dated. You may not have heard the Cockade State phrase before and likely didn't know what a cockade was anyway. But if nothing else, hopefully, this article has inspired you to learn even more about Maryland, the state that is America in Miniature.

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Written by Jonathan Davis

JDavis WRITER Jonathan is a Florida-based travel writer who can't seem to stay in one place for long. With more than two decades of trips under his belt, Jonathan has a wealth of information to share about travel within the United States and abroad.

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