8 Nicknames for Massachusetts You Should Know

5 min read

Destguides may receive commissions from purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

A city skyline with tall buildings and red brick houses under a blue sky with clouds
As one of the most historically important states, Massachusetts has many nicknames

Massachusetts is one of the oldest British colonies in North America and has played a significant role in the creation of the USA. So, it shouldn't be surprising that many of the state's nicknames are derived from its earliest years.

While some monikers like Bay State are commonly used, others are virtually unknown to people who don't live in the state. Learning the story behind some of these names can help you get to know the state a little better.

Whether you're planning a trip to MA or you're just interested in learning more about this corner of the East Coast, keep reading. Here are eight nicknames for Massachusetts you should know.

8 Massachusetts Nicknames

The Puritan State is one of the historic nicknames for Massachusetts
Many of the communities in Massachusetts were established by Puritans

The Puritan State

The Puritan State might be a less commonly used nickname, but it's one of the most historic. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Puritanism, a form of Christianity from England, became popular. However, due to religious persecution in England, many people who followed these beliefs embarked on a journey to North America.

Some of the first Puritans to come to the country were the Pilgrims, who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. Since they landed in what is now Massachusetts, they became most closely associated with this territory. Today, this nickname isn't used in everyday conversation, but you can still find it in older historical texts.

The Baked Bean State

Massachusetts's connection with baked beans traces back to the original colonies. The first settlers in the state were Puritans, who followed strict religious guidelines, including treating Sunday as a day of rest. In order to ensure food was available to eat, colonial families would prepare baked beans the day before as they didn't go bad and could be kept warm if kept in the oven.

Eventually, these early bean recipes began to change, especially as cities like Boston started to import goods from faraway places. Due to this, molasses, different herbs, and spices could be added to the dish. Today, baked beans are a source of pride for the state, so you'll find this nickname on humorous novelty and cooking-related items.

Kayak sails by the beach shore near houses
Old Bay refers to Massachusetts' Cape Cod Bay

Old Bay State

Old Bay State is a Massachusetts name that can be traced to the state's early days as a colony. After the Pilgrims arrived in what is today Plymouth Bay, near modern-day Cape Cod, subsequent ships of settlers similarly chose to create colonial towns near the water.

The "old bay" in question is Cape Cod Bay. Since it's a large inlet that encompasses other, smaller bays, it played an essential role in the survival of MA's first settlers by providing a place to fish. This nickname is one of the first attributed to Massachusetts, appearing in texts as far back as the 1800s.

The Bay State

The Bay State is the official MA nickname, and it's not hard to see why. There are numerous bays located off the state's shore, which helped the territory develop this moniker.

Additionally, many of the area's bays are nationally known. For example, it's a well-known Massachusetts fact that one of the state's bays, Plymouth Bay, was the site of the Mayflower's landing in the Americas.

There are other coastlines, like Massachusetts Bay and Buzzards Bay, that also add to this reputation. As the official nickname for the area, this slogan can be found in numerous types of tourism and state literature, as well as on souvenirs, postcards, and more.

A lighthouse and small beach houses next to a sandy shore and the water
There are many codfish in Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts

The Codfish State

The Codfish State might be the most seemingly peculiar nickname for Massachusetts. However, there's a good reason for its existence. One reason is that the Atlantic cod is the state fish. Additionally, there are large codfish populations in the aptly named Cape Cod Bay.

The exact date when this moniker was first coined is unknown, but the fish was named a state symbol in 1974. The cod was even used on license plates for a few years around that time.

The Old Colony State

Massachusett's reputation as the Old Colony State can be traced all the way back to the arrival of the Pilgrims. Though the first official British colony is in modern-day Virginia, many associate the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620 as a foundation for the country.

Later, when the American Revolutionary War was waged, Massachusetts was one of the first of the 13 colonies to rise against Britain. Today, this history is remembered through the use of this nickname, which can be found in history texts and souvenir items themed around American colonial history and patriotism.

A rectangular building with pillars near trees and cobblestone street
The Pilgrim State is one of the historical nicknames for Massachusetts

The Pilgrim State

This Massachusetts state nickname was inspired by the Pilgrims who came to New England in the 17th century. At the time, they had no idea that the land would one day become a state. To this day, one of the most important Massachusetts landmarks is Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims first landed.

Though no one is quite sure when the Pilgrim State nickname first started being used, it's been adopted in multiple books about the state's history. It's also used for tourism information and souvenirs. However, this moniker isn't used quite as frequently as it once was.

The Spirit of America

The Spirit of America may not be the most widely known nickname for this part of the US, but it's one of the most historical. This moniker comes from the voyage that brought Pilgrims from England to the New World in 1620. Once they landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, they began creating what would become the United States of America, effectively being the "spirit of America."

Due to its patriotic nature, this nickname has been embraced by the local government. You can find it on tourist information regarding the state's history and souvenir items. The phrase is even used on Massachusetts license plates.

In Summary

Clearly, there's no shortage of monikers that can be used when referring to Massachusetts. From well-known slogans like the Spirit of America to more obscure titles like the Codfish State, each nickname has a story worth learning about.

Hopefully, this list has helped you get to know a little more about MA. Now it's time to pick which of these Massachusetts names you want to start using for yourself!

Give us feedback about this article

Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 FORMER WRITER Gabrielle loves all things travel and culture. She is originally from the USA, but she has lived in Italy for over a decade. She's always ready to pack her bags, grab her passport, and head out on an adventure!

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

By entering your email address you agree to our terms and conditions, Privacy policy, and consent to receive emails.