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List of U.S. state name etymologies

From Academic Kids

This is a list of the origins of the names of U.S. states:

State name Language of origin Word of origin Meaning
Alabama Choctaw albalmo Cleared-up thicket
Alaska Aleut alaxsxaq Great country
Arizona Akimel O'odham (Pima) arizuma
Arizona Tohono O'odham (Papago) aleh-zon, ari-sonac or ali-shonak Small spring
Arkansas Sioux akakaze Those going downstream
California Spanish, Latin or Indian Origins disputed: May be named for the fictional Island of California in the 16th century novel The Sergas de Esplandian by Garcia Ordoñez de Montalvo. May be from caliente fornalia, Spanish for hot furnace. May come from calida fornax, Latin for hot climate. May be from kali forno, Indian for high mountains. There is no agreement among scholars.
See also: Origin of the name California
Colorado Spanish Río Colorado Red in color, presumably referring to the Colorado River, or the red sandstone formations in the area.
Connecticut Pequot Quonehtacut "Long tidal river", after the Connecticut River
Delaware French via English de la Warre After the Delaware River, which was named after Lord de la Warre (originally de la Guerre), who travelled it in 1610
Florida Spanish Pascua florida Easter blossom, in honor of its Spanish discovery on Easter
Georgia Latin or English After King George II of England
Hawai'i Polynesian Hawai'i From Hawaiki, legendary homeland of the Polynesians.
Idaho Shoshone ee-dah-how The sun comes from the mountains
Illinois Algonquian iliniwek "They are men", after the Illiniwek confederation
Indiana Latin or English Indian land
Iowa Sioux aiyuwe "Marrow", after the Iowa tribe
Kansas Sioux kansa "The wind-people", perhaps referring to the winds of the open prairie, after the Kaw or Kansas tribe
Kentucky Huron? kentake Prairie?
Louisiana French After King Louis XIV  of France
Maine French After French province of Maine, to honor the Duke of Maine, son of Louis XIV
Maryland English After Queen Henrietta Maria of England
Massachusetts Algonquian Near the great mountains
Michigan Algonquian michigamaw The great sea
Minnesota Sioux Turbid water, referring presumably to the Mississippi or the Minnesota River
Mississippi Sioux The father of the water, after the Mississippi River
Missouri Sioux Town of the large canoes, or wooden canoe people, after the Missouri tribe
Montana Spanish montaña Mountain
Nebraska Oto nebrathka Flattened water, after the Platte River, which used to be known as the Nebraska River
Nevada Spanish Snow-covered, after the Sierra Nevada ("snow-covered mountains")
New Hampshire English After Hampshire in England
New Jersey English After the island of Jersey in the English Channel
New Mexico Nahuatl via Spanish Mexica via Nuevo México After Mexico, and thus after the native Aztec name for themselves, Mexica, itself of uncertain origin.
New York English After York, England, to honor the then Duke of York (later King James II of England). Originally called New Amsterdam, as it was part of New Netherland colony.
North Carolina Latin After King Charles II of England
North Dakota Sioux dakota "Allies" (western Sioux; lakota in eastern Sioux), after the Lakota tribe
Ohio Iroquois Beautiful river, after the Ohio River
Oklahoma Choctaw okla-homma Red people
Oregon Cree ooligan (pronounced oorigan) A fish similar to smelt
Oregon French ouragan, or Ouaricon-sint Storm, or Wisconsin River, respectively
Oregon Spanish orejon, or orégano Big-ear, or wild sage, respectively
Pennsylvania Latin "Penn's woods", after William Penn
Rhode Island Dutch or Greek roodt eylandt (Dutch) or Ρόδος (Greek) Red island, perhaps referring to the clay deposits of Aquidneck Island; or for a resemblence to the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea
South Carolina Latin After King Charles II of England
South Dakota Sioux dakota Allies (western Sioux; lakota in eastern Sioux), after the Lakota tribe
Tennessee Cherokee? Possibly named after the Cherokee town Tanassee
Texas Caddo texas or tejas Allies (originally pronounced te-has)
Utah Ute Named after Ute Indians
Vermont French Vert mont Green mountain
Virginia Latin or English The virgin country (or country of the virgin), after Elizabeth I of England
Washington English After George Washington
West Virginia Latin or English The western, transmontane, counties of Virginia; separated from Virginia during Civil War; see Virginia, above
Wisconsin Ojibwe Miska(sin)sin (via French Ouisconsin) "Red Stone (river)," after the Wisconsin River
Wyoming Delaware machewe-ami-ing Of the great prairies

See also


sv:Etymologisk lista över USA:s delstater

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