According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origins of this nickname remain obscure. According to A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (1951), by Mitford M. Mathews, three theories most commonly attempt to explain the term:
1. The word "'Dixie'" refers to privately issued currency from banks in Louisiana. These banks issued ten-dollar notes, labeled "Dix", French for "ten", on the reverse side. These notes are now highly sought-after for their numismatic value. The notes were known as "Dixies" by English-speaking southerners, and the area around New Orleans and the French-speaking parts of Louisiana came to be known as "Dixieland". Eventually, usage of the term broadened to refer to most of the Southern States.
2. The word preserves the name of a "Mr. Dixy", a kind slave owner on Manhattan Island, where slavery was legal until 1827. His rule was so kindly that "Dixy's Land" became famed far and wide as an elysium abounding in material comforts.
3. "Dixie" derives from Jeremiah Dixon of the Mason-Dixon line which defined the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, and, for the most part, free and slave states (a small portion of Delaware, a Union border state, and slave state up to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, lay north of the boundary.)
The states of Dixie include West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Kentucky.