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West Virginia State Names (Etymology of Names)

West Virginia Name Origin and State Nicknames


WV 3D Map: State Name OriginWest Virginia is a U.S. state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north, and Maryland to the northeast.

West Virginia was named for Queen Elizabeth I of England (she was known as the Virgin Queen). Sir Walter Raleigh may have suggested this name around 1584.

West Virginia Nicknames

  • Mountain State
  • Switzerland of America
  • Panhandle State

Origin of West Virginia State Name

West Virginia was named in honor of Elizabeth, "Virgin Queen" of England. Until 1861 West Virginia was part of Virginia. Virginia was named to honor Queen Elizabeth of England often referred to as the "Virgin Queen."

See: "What's In A Name?" The Naming of West Virginia From the Debates and Proceedings of the First Constitutional Convention  December 3, 1861

West Virginia Nicknames

Mountain State

Mountains: West Virginia gets it nickname from all its mountains and hills such as the Appalachian Mountains extend through the eastern portion of the state.

Switzerland of America

Mountains: This is another nickname given because of the mountainous terrain of West Virginia. Early settlers tended to compare mountainous areas of the new land to the mountains of Switzerland.

Panhandle State

Shape: The borders of West Virginia tend to follow the contours of the land, winding between mountains, along mountain ridges, and along river beds. Two long, slender extensions of the state give West Virginia the nickname, "The Panhandle State." The land that extends eastward between Maryland and Virginia is referred to as the Eastern Panhandle. The strip of land that extends north between Ohio and Pennsylvania is referred to as the Northern Panhandle.

West Virginia Slogans

  • (formerly Almost Heaven )
  • (formerly Wild and Wonderful )
  • Wild Wonderful (on its license plate)
  • (formerly Open for Business)
  • Wild and Wonderful

West Virginia Postal Code

  • WV

West Virginia Resident's Name

  • West Virginian - Official (recommended by US GPO)
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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