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 200+ 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 New York nickname.

New Yorks Nickname

What is the New York Nickname? It is The Empire State.

The Empire State is located on the east coast of America, facing the Atlantic ocean. New York boasts the fourth largest population out of all 50 states and is home to the infamous New York City, or, as many refer to it as, The Big Apple!




The New York nickname, “The Empire State” is derived from its national and global importance. Today, many associate the New York nickname with the iconic Empire State Building, but in fact, the Empire state building played no role in the adoption of New York’s famous nickname.

If you are intrigued to learn more interesting facts about New York, we have comprised some amazing state facts, many that you probably didn’t know about! One of those interesting facts is that New York hosts over 3.5 million tourists a year, just to check out the Statue of Liberty. We think you’ll find all these facts about the state and its economy very interesting!

New York State Nickname

The truth is, there is no concrete evidence suggesting what the true origin is for the New York state nickname, but most believe it is due to the state’s history of wealth and variety of resources. Some sources credit George Washington for the creation of the nickname. George referred to the state as “at present the seat of the Empire” in December 1784.

The New York state nickname made its first appearance on New York license plates in 1951 and remained on them through to the mid-1960s. In 2001, “The Empire State” legend made its long-awaited return to New York license plates. New York is best known for being home to one of the biggest business hubs in the world; New York City, not only this but many other factors influence people from all over the world to reside and do business in the Empire State.

What is New York’s nickname

Similar to many other states, New York’s nickname has adopted many variations over the years, not just one. Although the New York nickname is “The Empire State”, there are other nicknames that are used when referencing New York, let’s take a look.

  • The Excelsior State – this New York state nickname is referencing New York’s motto, “Excelsior” is a Latin phrase that translates to “Ever Upward.
  • The Knickerbocker State – this nickname refers to the early Dutch settlers in New York and the pants they wore! “Knickerbocker” is a German phrase consisting of two words, “Knicker” means box and “bock” is a male goat.

New York adopted its motto, “Excelsior” in 1778, this motto, when translated from Latin means, “Ever Upward”. This is a perfect representation of the attitude and history of New York and its amazing people.

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