Michigan flag

Michigan State Motto

"Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice"

This Michigan state motto is a Latin motto which in English means "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you". The Michigan motto was adopted in 1835 as part of the state's coat-of-arms and state seal.

Story goes that the Michigan motto is a reference to the Lower Peninsula as the Upper Peninsula was added later in 1837.

The nature of the Michigan motto seems somewhat different from that of many of the other state mottos as it does not emphasize the more frequently used patriotic values such as "union", "peace", "God", "justice", "equality", "liberty" and the like.

On the state webpage, the state of Michigan MichiganGov
expresses that the motto of Michigan "holds many truths. Michigan is a land of great splendors. Full of natural beauty, historical importance and citizens full of hope and energy(...)"

Michigan State Nicknames

Whereas there is only one Michigan motto, there exist a number of state nicknames for Michigan:

"The Great Lake State" or "The Great Lakes State" or "The Lakes State"
Like Minnesota, Michigan is really quite 'the land of lakes'. This Michigan state nickname refers to the four "Great Lakes" that meet the Michgan shores: Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Michigan is also home of more than 11,000 inland lakes. License plates wore the name "The Great Lake State" from 1968-1975 and again from 1979-1983.

Michigan nickname: The Great Lake State - picture of sunset

"Water Wonderland" or "Water Winter Wonderland"
Once again a reference to the large water ressources in Michigan. In fact you are never more than 6 miles away from a water reserve of any natural kind and never more than 87.2 miles from one of the Great Lakes's shores.

"Lady of the Lake"
Yet again, another reference to the many lakes of Michigan. This Michigan state nickname may stem from Sir Walter Scott's poem, "The Lady of the Lake."

"The Wolverine State"
The origin of this Michigan state nickname is somewhat blurred and in one case even self contradictory:

  1. One legend goes that the great number of wolverines in the state are the reason for the Michigan nickname, however, the Michigan Historical Center claims that wolverines were very rare, if they even existed at all.

  2. Another story dates back to 1835 to a conflict between Michigan and Ohio when they were both making claims to a boundary called the "Toledo Strip". The Ohians were supposed to have mentioned the Michiganians as being "...as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines."

  3. A third theory says that in the 1830s Native Americans referred to the new settlers as greedy and ruthless wolverines as they visciously fought for land.

"The Auto State" or "The Automotive State"
Automobile production has played a major role in the state. In fact, Michigan is in the absolute U.S. lead of automobile production.

Michigan nickname: The Auto State - picture of car production

Michigan State Slogans

Whereas the Michigan state motto intends to describe the 'soul' of Michigan: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you" - Michigan state slogans focus especially on attracting tourists, and as you will see, in both a serious and funny ways:

"Pure Michigan"
This Michigan state slogan is part of a tourism campaign launched by the state and which may be see on the Michigan's Official Travel and Tourism Site: MichiganOrg

"Michigan, Give Your Business the Upper Hand"
This Michigan slogan's purpose is to attract business to the state Michigan and it may be seen on the webpage of The Michigan Economic Development Corporation: MichiganAdvantage

"Great Lakes, Great Times"

"Michigan: First Line of Defense From the Canadians"

"Michigan: America's Left Hand"

"Michigan: Talk to the Hand"

"Michigan: The Hideous Growth on the Forehead of America"

Some of these Michigan funny state slogans are featured over various souvenir t-shirts and stickers.

USA map with Michigan highlighted