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.

Many states 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 Michigan’s nickname.

Michigan state nickname

What is Michigan’s nickname? It is The Great Lakes State

The Great Lakes State is located in the North-Eastern area of the United States, surrounded by Lake Michigan from the west, and Lake Huron from the East. Michigan is home to the iconic city of Detroit and is comprised of two peninsulas, with the Lower Peninsula in the Southern region and the Upper Peninsula in the Northern region.




Michigans nickname situation is unique, with the most widely associated nickname of “The Great Lakes State” being the non-official nickname, the traditional Michigan nickname is actually “The Wolverine State”. However, most people identify Michigans nickname as the “Great Lakes State”.

Although the Great Lakes state isn’t the traditional Michigan state nickname, it has made appearances on the US Mint’s bicentennial commemorative quarter for Michigan. Many refer to Michigan as a “Water Wonderland”, which pays homage to its famous, and more relevant nickname.

Michigans State Nickname

Michigan’s state nickname was derived from the great lakes of North America, and the fact that Michigan is the only state in the U.S. to border 4 of the 5 lakes!

Michigan became the great lakes state on January 26, 1837, when Michigan became the 26th state to be admitted to the union. The US quarter not only includes the state and great lakes system, but it also has the Michigan state nickname engraved on the quarter too. If you are interested in seeing the US state nicknames for all 50 states, including the date each state was entered into the Union, then head over to our page that lists them in alphabetical order.

Michigan’s state nickname is pretty memorable and unique, due to the location of the state and the great lakes, here are more nicknames that are associated with Michigan:

  • The Wolverine State – there are many theories floating around to this day about how Michigan acquired this nickname, but the most believable is due to the sheer abundance of wolverines that once roamed the peninsula. It was said that, at one time, the people of Michigan were referred to as being “As Vicious and Bloodthirsty as Wolverines”.
  • Water Winter Wonderland – this tongue-twister made its way onto Michigan license plates between 1954-1964. It was originally “Water Wonderland” but the addition of “Winter” made its first appearance in 1964 until 1967, after this, the nickname got taken off Michigan license plates. Reasons for the adoption of this nickname are virtually identical to the reasons for the Great Lakes state nickname.

How did Michigan get its Motto?

US states share many things in common with others, but one thing that all states have is a motto, usually given to the state as a representation of their people, history, and culture. Michigan’s motto is, ” Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice”, this Latin phrase translates to, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”, again paying homage and respect to the special landscape and peninsulas that Michigan has in abundance.

If you are interested in learning about the Michigan state abbreviation, take a look at our page dedicated to this.