Names are meant to describe and distinguish one place or person from another. While long names might be unique and better differentiate a place — take the Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, for example — other times short names are preferred.
When settlers came to the United States more than three centuries ago, they had many opportunities to name new cities. Often, they named towns after people who have contributed in some way to the town’s development. Other times, towns were sometimes named after historical events.
24/7 Tempo set out to discover the town or city with the shortest name in each state using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In most states, the cities with the shortest names have monikers consisting of four letters or fewer, with one exception at seven letters. This doesn’t come close to other towns around the world, where even one letter can be a name. In fact, there are two villages, one in Sweden and another in Norway, with a one-letter name: Å, pronounced: “Aw,” meaning stream or small river.
Sometimes, a community’s name may represent a geographic feature. Towns sometimes also change their names, either because they have grown too much or as a publicity stunt. The resulting names can be quite amusing — here for the 50 strangest town names in America (and where they came from).
To identify the shortest town name in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed all incorporated places tracked by the U.S. Census. These are places with a charter recognized by state and elected officials. We did not consider Census designated places (CDPs), which are statistical entities. Hawaii, where all places are considered CDPs, was an exception. To count the characters in each place’s name we counted “town,” “city,” “village,” “municipality,” etc. only when these were parts of the official title. For example, with Gas City, Indiana, “City” is part of the city’s proper name so we counted it, whereas the “city” in Gas, Kansas, is not part of the official name and was not counted. Most states’ shortest place names are tied with other places in the state. Ties were broken by taking the shortest place name with the largest population. Population figures are five-year averages from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.