Nicknames are quite 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 unique qualities that they like to highlight, some of which are used to attract people looking to move to the state, while others act as a draw for those looking to vacation in the state. Some state nicknames are just 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 Rhode Island nickname.

Rhode Island Nickname

What is the Rhode Island Nickname? It is “The Ocean State”.

The Ocean State is technically an Island state, located on the East coast of the United States, along the Atlantic Ocean coastline. Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south via Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. Rhode Island also shares a maritime border with New York.




There are multiple reasons for the adoption of the Rhode Island nickname, the first one being as a promotional ploy to attract new tourists to the state. “Ocean State” started to appear on Rhode Island license plates in 1972, replacing the previous legend, “Discover”. The name “Ocean State” is an attractive nickname for a state, as, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like the sea, or at least, having a nice view of the ocean. All Rhode Islanders live within a 30-minute or less drive to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Rhode Island nickname mainly pays homage to the sandy shores, expansive coastlines, and ocean exposure. The Ocean State is the smallest state out of all 50 by landmass (only 1,045 square miles). This has never been an issue for Rhode Island as it makes all areas of the state more accessible, especially for those wishing to spend weekends by the sea. If you are interested in seeing the Nicknames for states in the US (all 50 of them), including the date each state was entered into the Union, then head over to our page that lists them in alphabetical order.

Rhode Island State Nickname

Much like many other states, Rhode Island has adopted multiple nicknames over the years, not just one! Although the Rhode Island state nickname (The Ocean State) is the official nickname, there’s a multitude of other nicknames associated with Rhode Island, let’s take a look.

  • Little Rhody – this Rhode Island state nickname leaves little to the imagination, the reason for the adoption of this nickname stems from the size of the state, or should we say, lack of size.
  • The Plantation State – this nickname is derived from the state’s official nickname, “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”.
  • The Smallest State – if “Little Rhody” wasn’t a big enough clue as to the origins of these nicknames, then “The Smallest State” should leave no doubts as to why this nickname was given to Rhode Island.
  • Land of Roger Williams – Roger Williams is the man who founded Providence Plantation in 1636, this nickname pays homage to this man and his brilliant discovery.
  • The Southern Gateway of New England – out of all the New England states, Rhode Island is the most Southern and is also home to many harbors and ships used to travel from one side of the ocean to the other. Most of the products imported to New England came through Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Motto

Now that you know the Rhode Island state nickname and non-official nicknames, it makes sense to take a look at Rhode Island’s motto. All states have a unique state motto/slogan, usually derived from an event linked with the state’s past. Mottos tend to be given to the state as a representation of the people past and present.

Rhode Island’s motto, “Hope” first made an appearance on its colonial seal in 1664. The motto references the times in which boats would sail to and from the Atlantic Ocean via Rhode Island, and still do! “Hope” is what many people associated with these ships are required to have due to the unforgiving nature of the open ocean.

If you are interested in learning about the Rhode Island abbreviation, take a look at our page on this. Unlike some other states, the Rhode Island abbreviation is easier to remember. However, knowing these state abbreviations is highly recommended for many different reasons.