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Origin of State Names


Alabama: From Alabama River by early European explorers and named "Alibamu" after the local Indian tribe.

Alaska: Corruption of Aleut word meaning "great land" or "that which the sea breaks against"

Arizona: Uncertain. Perhaps from the O'odham Indian word for "little spring".

Arkansas: From the Quapaw Indians

California: From a book, Las Sergas de Esplandián, by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo, c. 1500.

Colorado: From the Spanish, "ruddy" or "red".

Connecticut: From an Indian word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning "beside the long tidal river".

Delaware: From Delaware River and Bay; named in turn for Sir Thomas West, Baron De La Warr.

Florida: From the Spanish Pascua Florida, meaning "feast of flowers" (Easter).

Georgia: In honor of George II of England

Hawaii: Uncertain. The islands may have been named by Hawaii Loa, their traditional discoverer. Or they may have been named after Hawaii or Hawaiki, the traditional home of the Polynesians.

Idaho: An invented name whose meaning is unknown.

Illinois: Algonquin for "tribe of superior men".

Indiana: Meaning "land of Indians".

Iowa: From the Iowa River which was named after the Ioway Indian tribe.

Kansas: From a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind".

Kentucky: From an Iroquoian word "Ken-tah-ten" meaning "land of tomorrow"

Louisiana: In honor of Louis XIV of France

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.

Maryland: In honor of Henrietta Maria (queen of Charles I of England).

Massachusetts: From Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning "at or about the great hill".

Michigan: From Indian word "Michigana" meaning great or "large lake"

Minnesota: From a Dakota Indian word meaning "sky-tinted water".

Mississippi: From an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters".

Missouri: Named after the Missouri Indian tribe. "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes".

Montana: From the Spanish word meaning "mountain".

Nebraska: From an Oto Indian word meaning "flat water".

Nevada: Spanish: "snowcapped".

New Hampshire: From the English county of Hampshire

New Jersey: From the Channel Isle of Jersey.

New Mexico: From Mexico, "place of Mexitli," an Aztec god or leader

New York: In honor of the Duke of York.

North Carolina: In honor of Charles I of England

North Dakota: From the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies".

Ohio: From an Iroquoian word meaning "great river".

Oklahoma: From two Choctaw Indian words meaning "red people".

Oregon: Unknown. However, it is generally accepted that the name, first used by Jonathan Carver in 1778, was taken from the writings of Maj. Robert Rogers, an English army officer.

Pennsylvania: In honor of Adm. Sir William Penn, father of William Penn. It means "Penn's Woodland”.

Rhode Island: From the Greek Island of Rhodes.

South Carolina: In honor of Charles I of England.

South Dakota: From the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies".

Tennessee: Of Cherokee origin; the exact meaning is unknown.

Texas: From an Indian word meaning "friends".

Utah: From the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains".

Vermont: From the French "vert mont," meaning "green mountain".

Virginia: In honor of Elizabeth "Virgin Queen" of England.

Washington: In honor of George Washington.

West Virginia: In honor of Elizabeth, "Virgin Queen" of England.

Wisconsin: French corruption of an Indian word whose meaning is disputed.

Wyoming: From the Delaware Indian word, meaning "mountains and valleys alternating"; the same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.




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