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Dark red indicates the states almost always included in modern-day definitions of Dixie, red – often times included (see Southern United States for the U.S. Census definition), while light red – often included due to their historic connections to the South. Tan - Not considered Southern States but tied to them and/or have a significant minority of Southerners.[1][2][3]

Dixie, also known as Dixieland and Dixie Land, is a nickname for the southern United States. While there is no official definition of this region, or the extent of the area it covers, most definitions include the U.S. states that seceded and comprised the Confederate States of America.[4]


Bayou Navigation in Dixie, engraving of a Louisiana Steamboat, 1863

As a definite geographic location within the United States, Dixie is usually defined as the eleven Southern states that seceded from the United States of America in late 1860 and early 1861 to form the new Confederate States of America, listed below in order of secession:

Although Maryland is rarely considered part of Dixie today,[5][6] it is below the Mason–Dixon line. If the origin of the term Dixie is accepted as referring to the region south and west of that line, Maryland lies within Dixie. It can be argued that Maryland was part of Dixie before the Civil War, especially culturally.[7] In this sense, it would remain so into the 1970s, until an influx of people from the Northeast made the state and its culture significantly less Southern (especially Baltimore and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.).[6] However, the southern part of the state and Maryland’s Eastern Shore still remain, culturally, Southern and continue to share many common traits associated with Dixie.[8]

As for the nation's capital itself: "Whether Washington should be defined as a Southern city has been a debate since the Civil War, when it was the seat of the Northern government but a hotbed of rebel sympathy," the Washington Post wrote in 2011. "The Washington area's 'Southernness' has fallen into steep decline, part of a trend away from strongly held regional identities. In the 150th anniversary year of the start of the Civil War, the region at the heart of the conflict has little left of its historic bond with Dixie."[9]

Similarly, the character of Florida—a state which seceded in 1861 and was a member of the Confederacy—lost much of its Southern culture in the 20th century due to a great influx of Northerners, in particular New Yorkers.[10] The Florida panhandle is still arguably culturally part of Dixie; it includes a county named Dixie.

The location and boundaries of Dixie have, over time, become increasingly subjective and mercurial.[11] Today, it is most often associated with parts of the Southern United States where traditions and legacies of the Confederate era and the antebellum South live most strongly.[5] The concept of Dixie as the location of a certain set of cultural assumptions, mind-sets, and traditions was explored in the book The Nine Nations of North America (1981).[12]

Origin of the name[edit]

Ten-dollar note from Banque des citoyens de la Louisiane, 1860

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of this nickname remains obscure. The most common theories, according to A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (1951) by Mitford M. Mathews include the following:

  • The word Dixie could have originally referred to currency issued first by the Citizens State Bank in the French Quarter of New Orleans and then by other banks in Louisiana.[13] These banks issued ten-dollar notes[14] labeled Dix on the reverse side, French for ten (French pronunciation: [dis], DEESE). The notes were known as Dixies by Southerners, and the area around New Orleans and the French-speaking parts of Louisiana came to be known as Dixieland.[4] Eventually, usage of the term broadened to refer to the Southern states in general.
  • Dixie is sometimes claimed to be derived from Jeremiah Dixon, one of the surveyors of the Mason–Dixon line, which defined the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, separating free and slave states subsequent to the Missouri Compromise.[15] This namesake is likely retroactively attributed long after it came into use rather than being a genuine source of origin. Jonathan Lighter, the editor of the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, connects the terms Mason–Dixon line and Dixie via a children's game played in nineteenth century New York City.[16][a]
  • One apocryphal account claims the word preserves the name of Johan Dixie (sometimes spelled Dixy), a slave owner on Manhattan Island. According to a story recounted in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends (2008), Dixie's slaves were later sold in the South, where they spoke of better treatment while working on Dixie's land. There is no evidence that this story is true.[17][18]

Uses of the term[edit]

In terms of self-identification and appeal, the popularity of the word Dixie is declining. A 1976 study revealed that in an area of the South covering about 350,000 square miles (910,000 km2) (all of Mississippi and Alabama; almost all of Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina; and around half of Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida) the term reached 25% of the popularity of the term American in names of commercial business entities.[19] A 1999 analysis found that between 1976 and 1999, in 19% of U.S. cities sampled, there was an increase of relative use of Dixie; in 48% of cities sampled, there was a decline; and no change was recorded in 32% of cities.[20] A 2010 study found that in the course of 40 years, the area in question shrank to just 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2), to the area where Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida meet.[21] In 1976, at about 600,000 square miles (1,600,000 km2)[b] Dixie reached at least 6% of the popularity of American; in 2010, the corresponding area was a 500,000-square-mile (1,300,000 km2).[22][clarification needed]

"Rethinking the Boundaries of the South" by Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts

Sociologists Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the use of the words "Dixie" and "Southern" in business names. Unlike the survey conducted by John Shelton Reed, who concentrated on cities, Cooper & Knotts surveyed entire states using modern technology rather than the physical search of telephone books that were available to Reed. They excluded the chain Winn-Dixie from the study. Their data, within these parameters, resulted in a 13 state region which they divided into three tiers, from high to low scores. In the first tier were Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The second tier was Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The third tier was Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, and West Virginia.[23]

In the 21st century, some entities whose names contained "Dixie" chose to remove it from those names to cease glorifying the Confederacy; these entities include Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede,[24] the music group Dixie Chicks,[25] and the Dixie Classic Fair. The board of trustees at Dixie State University in Utah voted unanimously in December 2020 to change the name of the institution.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Based on all of these new findings, we can reconstruct a plausible, if circuitous, scenario for the real birth of Dixie. New York City children took the name of the Mason-Dixon line and converted it into a game involving their own demarcation between North and South, with Dixon given the familiar nickname of Dixie. Then Emmett, who was living in New York at the time that he wrote his minstrel songs, could have picked up on “Dixie’s Land” from the game. Emmett may very well have had other sources of inspiration, given that, as Wilton and others have observed, “Dixie” was also the name of a blackface character in a minstrel skit dating back to 1850. But the North-South delineation used by children at play currently stands as the likeliest source for Dixie.[16]
  2. ^ from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to southern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia


  1. ^ Wilson, Charles & William Ferris Encyclopedia of Southern Culture ISBN 978-0-8078-1823-7; Univ. of Pennsylvania Telsur Project Telsur Map of Southern Dialect
  2. ^ Vance, Rupert Bayless, Regionalism and the South: Selected Papers of Rupert Vance, University of North Carolina Press, 1982, p. 166 ISBN 0-8078-1513-6 "West Virginia is found to have its closest attachment to the Southeast on the basis of agriculture and population."
  3. ^ David Williamson (June 2, 1999). "UNC-CH surveys reveal where the 'real' South lies". Retrieved 22 Feb 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Dixie". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Ottenhoff, Patrick (January 28, 2011). "Where Does the South Begin?". The Atlantic.
  6. ^ a b Rasmussen, Frederick (March 28, 2010). "Are we Northern? Southern? Yes". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on May 11, 2018. Retrieved 22 Oct 2021.
  7. ^ "The General Assembly Moves to Frederick, 1861". Retrieved 25 Oct 2017.
  8. ^ So Where is the Border? It begins with an imaginary line from Cambridge, Md. to Fredericksburg, Va., follows the Rappahannock River up into the Piedmont, across the Baptist Line in West Virginia, along the Ohio River, and along the Baptist Line in southern Illinois.Ottenhoff, Patrick (January 28, 2011). "Where Does the South Begin?". The Atlantic.
  9. ^ Hendrix, Steve (January 15, 2011). "D.C. area and Dixie drifting farther and farther apart". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  10. ^ According to the New York Times, as of 2012, 8% of Floridians were born in New York Gregor Aisch; Robert Gebeloff (15 Aug 2014). "Mapping Migration in the United States". New York Times.
  11. ^ There is such a multitude of threads to the fabric called Dixie that official organizations draw boundaries enclosing anywhere from nine to seventeen states and call the region the South. Joel Garreau (1981). The Nine Nations of North America. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 132. ISBN 0-395-29124-0.
  12. ^ Garreau, Joel (1981). The Nine Nations of North America. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-29124-0.
  13. ^ "Dixie" Originated From Name "Dix" An Old Currency - New Orleans American May 29 1916, Vol. 2 No. 150, Page 3 Col. 1 Archived 2011-08-07 at the Wayback Machine Louisiana Works Progress Administration, Louisiana Digital Library
  14. ^ Ten Dollar Note Archived 2012-03-20 at the Wayback Machine George Francois Mugnier Collection, Louisiana Digital Library
  15. ^ John Mackenzie, "A brief history of the Mason–Dixon Line Archived 2018-07-17 at the Wayback Machine", APEC/CANR, University of Delaware; accessed 2017-01-05.
  16. ^ a b Zimmer, Ben (2020-06-26). "What 'Dixie' Really Means". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  17. ^ Wilton, David (2008). Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends. Oxford University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-1953-7557-2.
  18. ^ Campanella, Richard (2010). "Appendix A: Western River Commerce in the Early 1800s" (PDF). Lincoln in New Orleans: The 1828-1831 Flatboat Voyages and Their Place in History. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. p. 276, n. 99. ISBN 978-1-9357-5402-2.
  19. ^ John Shelton Reed, "The Heart of Dixie: An Essay in Folk Geography", [in:] "Social Forces" 54/4 (1976), pp. 925-939
  20. ^ Derek H. Alderman, Robert Maxwell Beavers, "Heart of Dixie Revisited: an Update on the Geography of Naming in the American South", [in:] "Southeastern Geographer" XXXlX/2 (1999), p. 196
  21. ^ Christopher A. Cooper, H. Gibbs Knotts, "Declining Dixie: Regional Identification in the Modern American South", [in:] "Social Forces" 88/3 (2010), pp. 1083–1101
  22. ^ Cooper, Gibbs Knotts 2010, p. 1090
  23. ^ Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts, Rethinking the Boundaries of the South. Southern Cultures, Volume 16, Number 4, Winter 2010, pp. 72-88
  24. ^ Freeman, Jon (11 January 2018). "Dolly Parton's Civil War-Themed 'Dixie Stampede' Attraction to Change Name". Rolling Stone.
  25. ^ Shaffer, Claire (25 June 2020). "Dixie Chicks Change Name to 'The Chicks,' Drop Protest Song". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  26. ^ Cortez, Marjorie (December 14, 2020). "Trustees vote to drop 'Dixie' from Dixie State University name". Deseret News. Retrieved 2020-12-16.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reed, John Shelton (with J. Kohl and C. Hanchette) (1990). The Shrinking South and the Dissolution of Dixie. Social Forces. pp. 69, 221–233.[ISBN missing]
  • Sacks, Howard L. and Judith Rose. Way Up North In Dixie. (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993)

Coordinates: 34°N 86°W / 34°N 86°W / 34; -86