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 attract those looking to vacation in the state.

Many states developed an initial nickname after they entered the union 150+ 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 West Virginia nickname.

West Virginia Nickname

What is the West Virginia Nickname? It is “Mountain State”.

The Mountain State is located in the Eastern region of the United States, West Virginia borders 5 other states. Virginia from the East and South-East, Ohio from the West, Pennsylvania from the North, Kentucky from the South-West and Maryland from the North-East. West Virginia is home to many beautiful landscapes and forests, but the Mountain State’s main attraction is the Appalachian Mountains.




The West Virginia nickname was derived from the Appalachian Mountains, these vast and beautiful tree-covered mountain ranges are so unique to West Virginia that they adopted it as the official state nickname. 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.

The Appalachian Mountain system is a region of mountains that stretch for miles and miles, there are 12 other states that have some land within this region, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. West Virginia is the only state to be 100% within the Appalachian Mountain region.

Nicknames for West Virginia

Much like many other states, there have been multiple nicknames for West Virginia that have been adopted over the years, not just one. Although the West Virginia nickname, “Mountain” is by far the most popular and significant one, there are a few other nicknames associated with West Virginia, let’s look at them.

  • Switzerland of America – this nickname has certainly done the rounds with regards to all 50 states. This West Virginia nickname is also a nickname for Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, or at least these states at one point were referred to as that. “Switzerland of America” pays homage to the beautiful landscapes and mountainous terrain West Virginia has in abundance.
  • The Panhandle State – this West Virginia nickname refers to the physical features of the state, the borders of the state follow the shape of the land exactly, winding between mountains and along river beds. This is where the nickname originates because it is believed that the eastward land between Maryland and Virginia resembles a panhandle and is therefore named the Eastern Panhandle, and the land between Ohio and Pennsylvania is referred to as the Northern Panhandle.

Now that you know the nicknames for West Virginia, it makes sense to take a look at West Virginia’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.

West Virginia’s motto, “Montani semper liberi”, is a Latin phrase that translates to “Mountaineers are always free”, which again, is referring to the abundance of beautiful mountains within West Virginia. But not just the mountains, the people of West Virginia, and more specifically the Mountaineers of the Mountain State.

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