How did the US states get their names?
Most of the early settlers came from England (hence New England) and simply named their new settlements after their place of origin; (New) York, (New) Jersey, (New) Hampshire, Plymouth, London, Portland, Portsmouth, Dunkirk, Burlington, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge, Salisbury, Camden, Dover, Bangor, even Woodstock. Immigrants from Germany brought Berlin, New Hampshire; from Italy Rome, New York; and those from The Netherlands brought New Amsterdam (later New York)NY. As expansion Westward took place the place naming became a little more imaginative. For example: Pennsylvania after William Penn, Pittsburgh after the British Prime Minister William Pitt. With the Louisianna (named after King Louis XV of France) Land Purchase the need to find new names for new states became quite serious. Some were named after the original names given by the French (New Orleans) or Spanish (Florida, Texas, New Mexico etc., still others simply Indiana (Indian Country). I can't help any further West than this.
AlabamaFrom Alabama River by early European explorers and named "Alibamu" after the local Indian tribeAlaskaCorruption of Aleut word meaning "great land" or "that which the sea breaks against"ArizonaUncertain. Perhaps from the O'odham Indian word for "little spring"ArkansasFrom the Quapaw IndiansCaliforniaFrom a book, Las Sergas de Esplandián, by Garcia Ordóñez de Montalvo, c. 1500ColoradoFrom the Spanish, "ruddy" or "red"ConnecticutFrom an Indian word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning "beside the long tidal river"DelawareFrom Delaware River and Bay; named in turn for Sir Thomas West, Baron De La WarrFloridaFrom the Spanish Pascua Florida, meaning "feast of flowers" (Easter)GeorgiaIn honor of George II of EnglandHawaiiUncertain. 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.IdahoAn invented name whose meaning is unknown.IllinoisAlgonquin for "tribe of superior men"IndianaMeaning "land of Indians"IowaFrom the Iowa River which was named after the Ioway Indian tribeKansasFrom a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind"KentuckyFrom an Iroquoian word "Ken-tah-ten" meaning "land of tomorrow"LouisianaIn honor of Louis XIV of FranceMaineFirst 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.MarylandIn honor of Henrietta Maria (queen of Charles I of England)MassachusettsFrom Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning "at or about the great hill"MichiganFrom Indian word "Michigana" meaning "great or large lake"MinnesotaFrom a Dakota Indian word meaning "sky-tinted water"MississippiFrom an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters"MissouriNamed after the Missouri Indian tribe. "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes."MontanaFrom the Spanish word meaning "mountain."NebraskaFrom an Oto Indian word meaning "flat water"NevadaSpanish: "snowcapped"New HampshireFrom the English county of HampshireNew JerseyFrom the Channel Isle of JerseyNew MexicoFrom Mexico, "place of Mexitli," an Aztec god or leaderNew YorkIn honor of the Duke of YorkNorth CarolinaIn honor of Charles I of EnglandNorth DakotaFrom the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies"OhioFrom an Iroquoian word meaning "great river"OklahomaFrom two Choctaw Indian words meaning "red people"OregonUnknown. 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.PennsylvaniaIn honor of Adm. Sir William Penn, father of William Penn. It means "Penn's Woodland."Rhode IslandFrom the Greek Island of RhodesSouth CarolinaIn honor of Charles I of EnglandSouth DakotaFrom the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies"TennesseeOf Cherokee origin; the exact meaning is unknownTexasFrom an Indian word meaning "friends"UtahFrom the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains"VermontFrom the French "vert mont," meaning "green mountain"VirginiaIn honor of Elizabeth "Virgin Queen" of EnglandWashingtonIn honor of George WashingtonWest VirginiaIn honor of Elizabeth, "Virgin Queen" of EnglandWisconsinFrench corruption of an Indian word whose meaning is disputedWyomingFrom the Delaware Indian word, meaning "mountains and valleys alternating"; the same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania
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