Maine State Names (Etymology of Names)

Maine Name Origin and State Nicknames

Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south; New Hampshire to the west; the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest; and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost portion of New England. Maine is the 39th most extensive and the 41st most populous of the 50 United States

There is no definitive explanation for the origin of the name "Maine". The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the former French province of Maine. Other theories mention earlier places with similar names, or claim it is a nautical reference to the mainland

Maine Nicknames

  • Pine Tree State
  • The Lumber State
  • Border State
  • Old Dirigo State
  • Vacationland
  • The Switzerland of America
  • Down East
  • The Polar Star State

Origin of Maine State Name

There is no definitive answer for the origin of the name Maine. The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the ancient French province of Maine. First used to distinguish the mainland from the offshore islands. It has been considered a compliment to Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I of England. She was said to have owned the province of Mayne in France.

First appearance of Maine's name

The name first appears in writing in 1622 as a province, in a charter of the Council of New England granting land to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason. The portion which came to be Capt. Mason's alone in 1629, he named New Hampshire. In the same year, a second charter labeled it Laconia. Gorges volleyed with yet another name for his territory: New Somerset. This was strongly disliked by King Charles; he responded in a 1639 charter that it "shall forever hereafter be called and named the Province or County of Mayne and not by any other name or names whatsoever." Despite the tone of finality, this still was not the last word: other suggestions were Yorkshire, Lygonia and Columbus, the latter two appearing as late as 1819, when statehood was imminent.

Another mentions that "Main" was a common term to describe a mainland. Whatever the origin, the name was fixed in 1665 when the King's Commissioners ordered that the "Province of Maine" be entered from then on in official records.

Maine Nicknames

Pine Tree State

This common nickname for Maine is given because of the extensive pine forests that have covered the state. Maine possesses over 17 million acres of forests. The White Pine has played an important part in the history of Maine and has been afforded appropriate recognition. In the early days of colonization, the tall White Pines of Maine were valued for ship's masts.

The Lumber State

Maine has been a leading producer of lumber products. Because of this and the large number of people involved in the lumber industry, Maine has been called "The Lumber State." Today, almost 89% of the state is forested. Maine is currently the home of many of the largest paper producing mills in the country. Many forms of Maine paper products are used in schools and offices throughout the country.

Border State

This nickname was given to Maine because its northern border is with Canada.

Old Dirigo State

This nickname, refers to Maine's state motto, Dirigo, meaning "I direct" or "I guide."


Appeared on license plates.

Down East

When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine (which were to the east of Boston), the wind their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term 'Down East.' And it follows that when they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind; many Mainers still speak of going 'up to Boston,' despite the fact that the city lies approximately 50 miles to the south of Maine's southern border."

The Switzerland of America

Maine is another state that was designated "The Switzerland of America" because of its mountains and snowfall.

The Polar Star State

Maine has been called "The Polar Star State" because of its position as one of the northernmost states and because of the North Star on its Coat of Arms.

Maine Slogans

  • It Must Be Maine; The Way Life Should Be
  • (formerly) Vacationland; also on its license plate

Maine Postal Code

  • ME

Maine Resident's Name

  • Mainer - Official (recommended by US GPO)
  • Down Easter or Downeaster - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Mainiac - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Pine Tree - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Fox - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
State Names
State Names & Nicknames

The Etymologies of US State Names