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Why is your state named what it is?

Why is your state named what it is?

Most names of the states are due to Native Americans and their languages. Luckily for us, Native Americans used some wonderful adjectives when naming and describing people, places, and things.

Some states were named after kings or towns in Europe, and others were influenced by Spanish or French words. Here are some examples:
Alabama is named after the Native American word which means “Here we rest.”

Arizona is the result of the Native American word arizonac, meaning “small springs” or “few springs.”

Arkansas is sort of a mixture of the Native American kansas, which means “smoky water,” and the French prefix arc, meaning “bow” or “bend.”

California comes from the Spanish words caliente fornalla, or “hot furnace.”

Delaware was named after Lord De la Warr.

Florida originated from the Spanish Pascua de Flores, which means “Feast of Flowers.”

Georgia was named after King George II of England.

Idaho is Native American, and means “Gem of the Mountains.”

Illinois is another mixture of Native American and French, the Native American word illini and the French suffix ois meaning “tribe of men.”

Kentucky is also Native American, and means “at the head of the river,” or “the dark and bloody ground.”

Louisiana is named after Louis XIV of France.

Maine was named after the former province of the same name in France, and Maryland after Queen Henrietta Maria of England, consort of Charles I.

New Hampshire is for the former Hampshire County in England.

New Jersey was named after the Island of Jersey.

The states New York and both North and South Carolina were also named after monarchs abroad.

Ohio and Oklahoma are both Native American, too; Ohio meaning “beautiful river,” and Oklahoma, “home of the red men.”

Oregon is from the Spanish word oregano, which stands for the wild marjoram, a plant abundant on its coast.

Pennsylvania traces back to the Latin, meaning “Penn’s woody land.”

Vermont is from the French for “green mountains.”

Virginia is called after Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen of England.

Washington gets its name from a good, straight American source–George Washington.

West Virginia is so called because it was formerly the western part of Virginia.

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  • Kathleen says:

    How about Rhode Island?

  • to-mac says:

    missouri means land of no democrats

  • Samantha says:


  • christine butler says:

    what about Mississippi river and state?

  • Mary Bunk says:

    Minnesota ????

  • Win says:

    Arkansas means “the downstream people”, and was a state BEFORE Kansas, which is just a shortened form of Arkansas.

  • Mary says:

    What about Missouri?

  • Heather says:

    Nebraska was named after an Otoe word meaning “flat water.” Think of the Platte River, a mile wide and a foot deep.

    I only know this because I had to do a report on the Otoe Indians back in grade school. There is basically nothing about this tribe, except for that. =D

  • angelfeather888 says:

    and is’nt the whole of the United States once called Turtle Island?

  • Jonathan Elliott says:

    What about Massachusetts?

  • DC Nachtrieb says:

    Colorado – Colorado is of Spanish origin, meaning “colored red.” The name was applied to the Colorado river (because of the red sandstone soil of the region) and came into use for the entire territory after the discovery of gold in the Pike’s Peak region. In 1861 congress chose Colorado as the name for the Territory.

  • Richard Wells says:


  • Jerry says:


  • susan says:

    Michigan… Great Lake

  • susan says:

    Yea.. Doest it mean The color red? What about Michigan?

  • Randy Lashley says:

    What about Colorado?

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