All 50 State Mottos, Ranked
It had to be done! After tearing apart every U.S. state by their flags, license plates, and shape, we decided to take another whack at it and get really real and rank their state mottos. Some of them are only a word long, others are entirely in Latin, and Texas is just trolling.
Here's our extremely definitive list.
"Fatti maschii, parole femine" (Manly deeds womanly words)
“Crabcakes and football, that’s what Maryland does!” Oh, and severe sexism in its original Italian.
"Liberty and Independence"
This is a real C+ effort for the very first goddamn state of the union. This isn’t a motto, these are just two nouns with a conjunction in the middle. COME ON, DELAWARE! YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE.
Do you even give a f*ck, Utah?!
"North to the Future"
The sentiment is there, but there’s just a bit too much nerdiness infused. Can’t you just see a chubby A/V kid shouting this at the top of his lungs?
"The Crossroads of America"
This is not so much a motto as much as it is a statement—they could have just as well written “We’re a state!” on their flag.
"Ditat Deus" (God Enriches)
God enriches what? Can you finish the sentence? Please and thank you.
"Eureka" (I have found it)
I get it, there’s gold in your dirt. LET IT GO.
"Dirigo" (I direct)
You stick with your one word motto and we’ll stick to only paying attention to the Badgers when they win.
"In God We Trust"
Nice try. God left Florida a long time ago.
"Al-ki" (Bye and Bye)
I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about Washington’s state motto.
"Esto perpetua" (Let it be Perpetual)
Who wrote this? My eighth grade vice principal? BACK OF THE LINE.
"State Sovereignty, National Union"
Can you really have it both ways, Illinois?
"Oro y plata" (Gold and Silver)
What’s that old saying? If you have to say you’re rich, you’re probably not.
"Union, Justice, and Confidence"
This is the modified version from the original "Union, Justice, Confidence" and the setting of the 1982 thriller Swamp Thing.
"Salus populi suprema lex esto" (The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law)
Bet those Missouri Republicans are all kinds of pissed about this one.
34. North Carolina
"Esse quam videri" (To be, rather than to seem)
Shocking poignancy from the state that gave birth to Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
"Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice" (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you)
The kind of explanatory motto that was probably written an hour before it was due. That’s like California’s motto being: “We are really far west!”
32. New Jersey
"Liberty and Prosperity"
Did Jersey get this one from a state motto generator online?
"With God, all things are possible"
Not even going to touch this one.
"Per aspera ad astra" (To the stars through difficulties)
They tried to ratify the original script of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as the motto, but the governor vetoed it for being too long.
"Sic semper tyrannis" (Thus Always to Tyrants)
It’s not very often that the last words Abraham Lincoln heard define an entire state, but here we are.
28. South Dakota
"Under God the people rule"
Is this a fact or a warning? What happens if no one wants to rule?
"Qui transtulit sustinet" (He who is transplanted still sustains)
Call me crazy or biased, but I think this latin motto refers to all the brave Connecticut men who’ve bravely traversed the state, into new territories, and become transplants into Manhattan. Good for us.
"Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain"
However, they neither prize nor maintain a good motto.
"Labor omnia vincit" (Labor conquers all things)
What a wonderful and naive motto.
Wait, Texas’ state motto is "Friendship"? They don’t have any friends! I can’t decide if this is way cool or a total cop-out.
"L'Etoile du Nord" (The star of the north)
And all before the Mall of America was built!
22. New York
"Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation"
Note: the 'Moderation' portion of this state motto was added after the state governor died from a fresh peach overdose.
"Virtue, Liberty, and Independence"
Pennsylvania just took the best parts from the Pledge of Allegiance and added “virtue” on the front. I could do that, hell I will do that.
19. Rhode Island
"Nil sine numine" (Nothing without the Deity)
This sounds vaguely like a Boyz II Men song. Is this a Boyz II Men song? We suspect “deity” is slang for something big and juicy.
"Virtute et armis" (By valor and arms)
There’s an old-timey southern elegance and arrogance about Mississippi’s motto that almost makes you forget about all that secession stuff. Almost.
"Alis Volat Propriis" (She Flies With Her Own Wings)
Who’s this woman? Where did she get those wings?! Red Bull?
"Agriculture and Commerce"
Gotta love Tennessee for taking the two things that make their state money and just sticking them together.
According to the HRC, they have a decent rating. But they could improve. Heck, we all could.
13. South Carolina
"Dum spiro spero / Animis opibusque parati" (While I breathe, I hope / Prepared in mind and resources)
THEY HAVE TWO!
"All for our country"
They put their chips all in and it’s totally devoid of bullsh*t, unlike the bottoms of their cowboy boots.
11. New Mexico
"Crescit eundo" (It grows as it goes)
I mean, I can’t be the only one who hears a dick joke here, right? I mean, am I crazy? It’s a dick joke. Well done, Little Mexico!
"Audemus jura nostra defendere" (We Dare Defend our Rights)
I want to believe you, Alabama—but you’re Alabama and have historically let things slide...human rights, for instance. Still, badass motto.
"Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono" (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness)
Is this where surfers got “righteous” from?
"Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem" (By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty)
This is actually scarily accurate—Massachusetts folks will happily punch you in the face to prove their point.
"Freedom and Unity"
There’s so much freedom and unity in Vermont that people can go weeks without working without the man giving them hell. Go Vermont!
6. North Dakota
"Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable"
This is awesome, but can anyone point out North Dakota on a map?
"Regnat populus" (The People Rule)
Surprisingly bold and in your face—what else would you expect from the Bill Clinton state?
4. West Virginia
"Montani semper liberi" (Mountaineers are always free)
This one is fantastic—it is as if they always knew lumbersexuality would be all the rage in 2015.
"United we stand, divided we fall"
All I can think about is a big box of KFC uniting a family as they divide the pieces.
2. New Hampshire
"Live Free or Die"
This is the motto every other state wishes they thought of first. Some have come close, but no one’s quite gotten there.
"Equality before the law"
There’s something especially badass about Nebraska’s diehard call for equality. They’re willing to go to jail for what they believe in, whether it’s the right to bear arms or marry a stalk of corn.