What Are Some State Names in the United States?


Quick Answer

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut and Illinois are some U.S. states with names of Native American origin. Arizona, Colorado, California, Florida and Montana are state names with Spanish-language origins.

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What Are Some State Names in the United States?
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Full Answer

The state name Alabama comes from the Native American tribe of the same name that lived in the area prior to European colonialism. Similarly, Illinois took its name from the Illini tribe of that area.

The name Alaska comes from the Aleut word "alaxssix," which means "the place against which the sea crashes." Arkansas comes from the Quapaw language. Acansa was the name of a Quapaw town; the word was later anglicized to Arkansas. The name Connecticut comes from the Mohegan word "quinnituqut," which means "long river." Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Michigan are also state names with Native American origins.

The word "colorado" is Spanish for turning red. Spanish settlers noticed red silt in a river that flows through the state and so named the river Rio Colorado, which eventually lent its name to the state. Similarly, Montana took its name from the Spanish word for mountains because of the geography of the area. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon named Florida after a Spanish phrase meaning "feast of flowers."

The names Arizona and California are actually both Native American and Spanish in origin. Both are Spanish pronunciations of Indian names.

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