US State Names

Obviously I know the origin of Maryland, Louisiana, Washington and some others but how did states like Arkansas,Iowa, Idaho, Illinois and all the rest get their names.

I’m guessing from Native American :dubious:

Wiki article: List of U.S. state name etymologies.

Texas derives its name from the Caddoan language word “Taysha” meaning “Friend” or “Hello Friend.”

New Mexico seems rather obvious (Remember the George Carlin joke, “It isn’t New and it isn’t Mexico so why do we call it New Mexico?”) Colorado is Spanish for the color red because much of the state has rich red earth. So does the Colorado River which starts in the state of Colorado.

Thanks DDG.

Why didn’t I go to wiki?::smack::

Colorado is named after the Colorado River. The Colorado River is so named because of its reddish color. “Río colorado rojo” or something I’d guess (not speaking much Spanish, this is probably way off). Since much of Colorado was Spanish and then Mexican we naturally have many place names that reflect that. Just a few - San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges, San Luis (town and valley), Huerfano, Los Animas, La Plata, Montezuma counties.

The first attempts at getting a territory separate from Kansas proposed (IIRC) “Jefferson” as a name, but that one didn’t make it very far.
And on preview, I shouldn’t take so long checking spelling.

Río Colorado :slight_smile: “Río Colorado Rojo” would be the Red Red River, which falls under the aegis of the Department of Redundancy Department.

Florida means “full of flowers”, but in the case of the state it’s a shortening for “Pascua Florida”, Easter (the other two Pascuas are Christmas/Epiphany and Pentecost). The first Mass held in Florida was on Easter, held by a cartography expedition (or so I was told).

Two WAGs I’ve heard for California are:

  • a deformation of Calpurnia
  • a joke on Cálido (hot) and Horno/Forno (oven), meaning “it’s dang hot in here, man, and me without my SP45.”

The only serious explanation I’ve heard of California is that it comes from the 1510 novel:

One author I read said the name comes from “a semi-pornographic novel”, but I’m not sure he ever actually read Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián)án

:smack: Dammit, I knew that. Freakin’ babelfish cut-n-paste to get the “í” instead of looking up the code for it. More worried about keeping the “h” out of Cristo and finding “Huerfano”. Yeah, that’s it.

Actually, the name “California” comes from the “caliente,” meaning “hot,” and “fornicae,” to fornicate. Thus California = The Land Where People Screw In Hot-Tubs.

I was just going to say that it came from the Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

The founding fathers of Canada couldn’t decide on a name, so they decided to throw a bunch of letters in a hat and pick some out randomly.

The first letter is drawn and announced

“C, eh.”

Then the second letter

“N, eh.”

and the third

“D, eh.”

“Idaho” is a completely made-up name. The Senate was told it meant “gem of the mountains” in some unspecified Native American language, but it doesn’t. But it sounded terrifically mysterious and native, so they used it anyway.

Cite. (PDF file.)

While we’re on the subject, Kansas derives from the Kansa indians. The name means “South Wind People”.

In Spanish colorado means both “colored” and the “color red” (which is also rojo), Spanish speakers evidently regarding red as the “default” color. :slight_smile:

I’d be happy to blame that weirdness for my mistake (and babelfish, stupid dang babelfish) but I grew up here and know, KNOW I SAY, that Colorado is supposed to mean color red. Allergies, that’s what it was, and the cold medicine. Plus a front is moving through and I think I’m coming down with something. Also I like saying “rojo”.

California, though we get it by way of Spanish, was named for a legendary island inhabited by Amazon warriors. IIRC the name of their queen was Calafia.