Nicknames are common for people and sports teams, but why would a U.S. state have a nickname? The 50 States in the U.S. all have special and different qualities that they like to boast about, some of which are used to attract people to the state, whether to live there, or just for a visit, while others are rooted in long-standing history.

All these factors culminate into several interesting facts about Massachusetts, with one of the more notable ones being that Christmas was banned in Massachusetts for over 20 years! Between the years 1659 and 1681, there was no Christmas celebrations happening there, reasons for this still vary to this day.

Many states, including Massachusetts, developed an initial nickname after they entered the union 100+ years ago, but not all state nicknames have stuck with each state over the years, and many have developed additional nicknames or primary nicknames that they identify with the most or that set them apart from other states. States take their nicknames from various sources so let’s take a look at the Massachusetts nickname.

Massachusetts Nickname

What is the Massachusetts nickname? The Bay State

The Bay State, which officially goes by the name of “Commonwealth” is situated on the North-East coast of America. Bordering Vermont and New Hampshire in the North, Rhode Island and Connecticut in the South, and to the West by New York. Massachusetts has the 17th smallest landmass out of all 50 states.




The Massachusetts nickname is derived from the sheer abundance of bays within the state. The Bay State is not the only nickname Massachusetts goes by, it is, however, the most popular and well-known one.

On December 18, 1990, the Massachusetts legislature officially declared that all residents of Massachusetts were to be referred to as “Bay Staters”, paying homage to the historical Massachusetts state nickname.

Massachusetts earned the nickname because of its many bays, five to be precise. The five bays used to form the Massachusetts nickname include Massachusetts Bay, Quincy Bay, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Cape Cod Bay.

Massachusetts State Nickname

The Massachusetts state nickname isn’t just “The Bay State”, there are several nicknames associated with Massachusetts. Other nicknames for Massachusetts include “The Baked Bean State” (baked navy beans are the official state bean), “The Codfish State” (cod is the state fish), “The Pilgrim State” (Plymouth Rock is the official historical rock) and “The Spirit of America” (seen on Massachusetts license plates).
Much the same as other states, Massachusetts has adopted a motto as well as the Massachusetts state nickname that represents the state and its people in a multitude of ways, past and present.

The motto, “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem” is a Latin phrase translated to, “with the sword she (Massachusetts) seeks tranquil peace under liberty: through battle we seek peace, but only with liberty”. This doesn’t make a whole lot of grammatical sense, however, it still does represent the “Bay Staters” attitudes, both past and present. It is also the official motto of the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

If you are interested in the Massachusetts state nickname, chances are you will enjoy learning the Massachusetts state abbreviation, so take a look at our page dedicated to this. The Massachusetts state abbreviation is one that gets confused with other states with similar names. The most commonly confused states are the Maryland state abbreviation and the Maine state abbreviation since they all start with the letters, MA.