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Delaware State Names (Etymology of Names)

Delaware Name Origin and State Nicknames

Middle Atlantic

DE 3D Map: State Name OriginDelaware is a  state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, in the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula and is the second smallest, the sixth least populous, but the sixth most densely populated of the 50 United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, to the northeast by New Jersey, and to the north by Pennsylvania.  Delaware is divided into three counties, the lowest number of counties of any state

The state was named after the Delaware River which in turn derived its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (1577-1618), the governor of the Colony of Virginia at the time the river was first explored by Europeans.

Delaware Nicknames

  • First State (Official State nickname on May 23, 2002)
  • Diamond State
  • Blue Hen State
  • Small Wonder
  • Peach State
  • New Sweden
  • Land of Tax-Free Shopping

Origin of Delaware State Name

Delaware is not a Native American name. Exploring the Atlantic coast north of Jamestown in 1610, Captain Samuel Argall discovered a large bay which he named in honor of Sir Thomas West, Third Lord de la Warr and the first governor of the Virginia. The title is likely ultimately derived from the Old French de la werre ("of the war"or a warrior). Apparently, Governor West was unimpressed with this honor and returned to England without ever bothering to gaze upon his namesake. However, the name stuck. English colonists later used Delaware for the bay, the river and the native peoples who lived there. The Delaware called themselves Lenape translated either as "original people" or "true men."

Delaware Nicknames

Delaware is known by this nickname due to the fact that on December 7, 1787, it became the first of the 13 original states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. "The First State"became the official State nickname on May 23, 2002 following a request by Mrs. Anabelle O'Malley's First Grade Class at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.

Delaware Law

CHAPTER 268
FORMERLY
HOUSE BILL NO. 395
AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO STATE SYMBOLS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

WHEREAS, it is appropriate, dignified and historically accurate to reference Delaware's singular and important step in being the first state to ratify our United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the 127th General Assembly through Senate Joint Resolution No. 12, sponsored by the late Senator Allen J. Cook, instructed the Secretary of State to use the phrase "The First State" in describing our great State of Delaware when referring to her by other than her formal name; and

WHEREAS, the 141st General Assembly seeks to codify the foresight of the 127th General Assembly by giving the phrase "The First State" recognition as Delaware's official nickname;

NOW, THEREFORE:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Chapter 3, Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section to read:

"?318. The official nickname of the State is 'The First State'.".

Approved May 23, 2002

Delaware has several nicknames, they include Diamond State, Small Wonder, Blue Hen State, Peach State, Land of Tax-Free Shopping, and New Sweden.

First State

Delaware is known by this nickname due to the fact that on December 7, 1787, it became the first of the 13 original states to ratify the US Constitution. "The First State" became the official State nickname on May 23, 2002.

Diamond State

Small but valuable. This nickname, Diamond State, was given to Delaware, according to legend, by Thomas Jefferson because he described Delaware as a "jewel" among states due to its strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard.

Blue Hen State

Blue Hen State was given to Delaware after the fighting Blue Hen Cocks that were carried with the Delaware Revolutionary War Soldiers for entertainment during Cock fights.

Small Wonder

And its small size gave it the nickname of Uncle Sam's Pocket Handkerchief, or more recently, Small Wonder. It was given to Delaware due to its size and the contributions it has made to our country as a whole and the beauty of Delaware.

Peach State

In the 16th century, the Spanish introduced peaches into the state, and a hundred years later the state was almost overrun with them, leading to the nickname The Peach State (which in turn led the state to adopt the Peach Blossom as the state flower in 1895).

New Sweden

It also once had the nickname New Sweden, after the name of the original Swedish settlement of "Nye Sverige", founded in 1638.

Delaware Slogans

  • It's Good Being First

Delaware Postal Code

  • DE

Delaware Resident's Name

  • Delawarean - Official (recommended by US GPO)
  • Blue Hen's Chicken - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Muskrat - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
State Names
State Names & Nicknames
The etymologies of some US state names are more obvious than others, derived from the Spanish or French tongue. Though, more than half of the US state names come from Native American tribal languages, with several still a mystery to scholars and historians.
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