How Your State Got Its Name

Source: FoxysGraphic / Getty Images

You can practically glean the history of America in the names of all 50 states.

The story of the United States begins in the East and the South and is reflected in the origin of the names of the states. In the East and South, many states owe their monikers to our forebears from England, France, and Spain. These states include New York, Vermont, and Florida.

Another influence from the earliest time in our history is Native American culture, apparent in several state names. It is also apparent in many city names. There are a lot of obscure places with strange names that people have a hard time with — like these 50 town names most people will struggle to pronounce.

Native American place names figure prominently as we move westward, in states such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota. About half of America’s states owe their names to Native American origin. Names with Spanish origins can be found in the West, including Colorado, New Mexico, and California. Hawaii and Alaska’s names are derived from words describing the lands in the language of the native people who inhabited those areas before the arrival of Europeans.

To compile a list of how the states got their names, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information from state websites and online resources.