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 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.

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 Tennessee nickname.

Tennessee Nickname

What is the Tennessee Nickname? It is “The Volunteer State”.

The Volunteer State is located in the Southern Region of the United States, more specifically, the South-East. Tennesse is considered to be a part of Appalachia, this is a cultural region in the Eastern United States, stretching from New York, down to Alabama and Georgia. Tennessee borders 8 other states, yes, you heard that right, 8 states! Kentucky to the North, Missouri to the North-West, Arkansas to the West/South-West, Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia to the South, North Carolina to the East, and Virginia to the North-East.




Tennessee has adopted several nicknames over the years, with the most popular and well-known being “The Volunteer State”. This Tennessee nickname originates from the War of 1812, and pays homage to the thousands of volunteer soldiers originating from Tennessee who played a substantial part in the war, specifically the Battle of New Orleans.

The reputation Tennessee had gained from the heroic actions taken by those volunteers was justified during the Mexican War, when the secretary of state asked for 2,800 Tennessee volunteers and received over 30,000 responses! It is no wonder that this Tennessee nickname has been so popular for such a significant amount of time.

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.

Tennessee State Nicknames

Much like many other states, there have been multiple Tennessee state nicknames over the years, not just one. Although the Tennessee state nickname, “The Volunteer State” is by far the most popular and significant one, there’s a multitude of other nicknames associated with Tennessee, let’s take a look.

  • The Big Bend State – this nickname was adopted in reference to the Indian name for the Tennessee River, “The river with the big bend”.
  • The Mother of Southwestern Statesmen – this Tennessee state nickname refers to the role that the people of Tennessee have played in shaping the United States government.
  • The Hog and Hominy State – this nickname is a little out of date, and unlike the main Tennessee nickname, this one hasn’t survived the course of time as well. It refers to the time when Tennessee was a major pork and corn producer, and subsequently products made from these two materials, between 1830 and 1840.
  • The Lion’s Den State – J.C. Thomas refers to Tennessee as the “Lions Den State” in his book, “Manual of Useful Information”, which was published by the Werner Company in 1893. Despite being referenced in the book, there is still no concise evidence suggesting why he named it this.

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

Tennessee’s motto, “Agriculture and Commerce” was adopted due to the State Seal, where this phrase can be seen. The origins of this phrase reference the early years of Tennessee and how agriculture was and still is a leading Tennessee industry.

If you are interested in learning about the abbreviation for Tennessee, take a look at our page on this. Unlike some other states, the Tennessee abbreviation is harder to remember because it is not made up of the first two letters or the first and last letter of its name.