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State Names and Other Facts


Touch State Abbreviation to show image of state and flag.  The Origin and Meaning of state names represent the prevailing consensus.  Click on any underlined name or place for more information.  GDP is 2013 est. Gross Domestic ProductPopulation is according to the 2013 estimate.  The column If Renamed jokingly gives a name based upon contemporary naming practices (See the map.)

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State Name

Abbrev.

Nickname

If Renamed

Admit Date

Demonym

Population

Governor

Name Origin

Meaning

Notes

Alabama

AL

Yellowhammer State

Dixie World  

Dec. 14, 1819

Alabamans

4,833,722

Robert Bentley 

Choctaw

“plant-cutters”

Two Choctaw words: “alba” meaning vegetation, herbs or plants; and “amo” meaning gatherer or picker. 

Alaska

AK

Last Frontier

SnoRite  

Jan. 03, 1959

Alaskans

735,132

Bill Walker 

Aleut

“mainland”

From the Aleut word “Alyeska,” meaning “great land” or “that which the sea breaks against.” 

Arizona

AZ

Grand Canyon State

SunGlo  

Feb. 14, 1912

Arizonans

6,626,624

Jan Brewer 

Aztec, or Pima

“silver-bearing,” or “small spring”

Origin of the name is uncertain. 

Arkansas

AR

Natural State

Ozark Park  

June 15, 1836

Arkansans

2,959,373

Mike Beebe 

Quapaw

Soiux “south wind”

Borrowed from an Illinois rendering of the tribal name kanze see Kansas, below, how the Miami and Illinois refer to the Quapaw. 

California

CA

Golden State

Like  

Sep. 09, 1850

Californians

38,332,521

Jerry Brown 

Spanish

where Queen Califia ruled

From “Califia” queen of a mythical Spanish island in a Spanish romance Las Sergas de Esplandian by Garcia Ordo?ez de Montalvo, 1510. 

Colorado

CO

Centennial State

Healthy Heights  

Aug. 01, 1876

Coloradans

5,268,367

John Hickenlooper 

Spanish

“red color”

Originally referring to the Colorado River. 

Connecticut

CT

Constitution State

Insure  

Jan. 09, 1788

Nutmeggers or Connecticuters

3,596,080

Dan Malloy 

Mohican / Algonquin

“at the long tidal river”

From the Indian name for the Connecticut River. 

Delaware

DE

First State

First National State  

Dec. 07, 1787

Delawareans

925,749

Jack Markell 

French via English

“of the war”

After the Delaware River, which was named for Lord de la Warr. 

District of Columbia

DC

Capital

AlphaCity  

Nov. 17, 1800

Washingtonians

646,449

Muriel Bowser 

English

Named after the first US President

Named after the first US President 

10 

Florida

FL

Sunshine State

AmeriBeach  

Mar. 03, 1845

Floridians

19,552,860

Rick Scott 

Spanish

“flowers”

Explorer Ponce de Leon named the land after “Pascua de Florida” “Feast of Flowers” on Palm Sunday of 1513. 

11 

Georgia

GA

Peach State

Peaches N' More  

Jan. 02, 1788

Georgians

9,992,167

Nathan Deal 

Latin

“George”

The feminine Latin form of “George,” named after King George II of England 

12 

Hawaii

HI

Aloha State

Isle Be Seaing U  

Aug. 21, 1959

Hawaiians (natives) Islanders (non-natives)

1,404,045

David Ige 

Hawaiian

“small or new homeland”

May have been named for the traditional home of the Polynesians, called “Owhyhee.” 

13 

Idaho

ID

Gem State

Perpetua  

July 03, 1890

Idahoans

1,612,136

Butch Otter 

English

invented word

Mining lobbyist George M. Willing invented the name saying it was a Shoshone Indian word that meant “Gem of the Mountains.” 

14 

Illinois

IL

Prairie State

Chi+  

Dec. 03, 1818

Illinoisan or Illinoians

12,882,135

Pat Quinn 

Algonquian

“warriors” or “superior men”

By French explorer Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle in 1679 after the Indians he found living along the banks. “Illini” was a confed. of Indian tribes. 

15 

Indiana

IN

Hoosier State

Town and Country  

Dec. 11, 1816

Hoosiers or Indianians or Indianans

6,570,902

Mike Pence 

English

“Land of the Indians.”

The natives were called Indians because of Columbus’ error thinking he had reached the Asian India. 

16 

Iowa

IA

Hawkeye State

Sunny Farms  

Dec. 28, 1846

Iowans or Hawkeyes

3,090,416

Terry Branstad 

Dakota

“sleepy ones”

From the natives tribal name “Ayuxwa” which was spelled by the French as “Ayoua” and by the English as “Ioway.” 

17 

Kansas

KS

Sunflower State

Midstate  

Jan. 29, 1861

Kansans or Jayhawkers

2,893,957

Sam Brownback 

Kaw

“south wind”

From the Kansas River which was named by the French after the Kanze natives who lived there. 

18 

Kentucky

KY

Bluegrass State

Equus  

June 01, 1792

Kentuckians

4,395,295

Steve Beshear 

Iroquoian

“prairie” or “field”

From the Iroquois Indian name referring to the landscape. Possibly a Wyandot or Iroquois name meaning “land of tomorrow.” 

19 

Louisiana

LA

Pelican State

Hot N' Humid  

Apr. 30, 1812

Louisianians or Louisianans

4,625,470

Bobby Jindal 

French

in honor of King “Louis”

French explorer Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle, first European to sail the Miss. River delta, named the area La Louisianne after Louis XIV of France. 

20 

Maine

ME

Pine Tree State

@lantia  

Mar. 15, 1820

Mainers or Main Staters

1,328,302

Paul LePage 

English or French

“the main land”

May refer to the mainland, as opposed to the coastal islands, or may be named after the French province of Maine. 

21 

Maryland

MD

Old Line State

Heritage Home  

Apr. 28, 1788

Marylanders

5,928,814

Martin O'Malley 

English

in honor of Queen “Mary”

After Queen Henrietta Maria of England, wife of King Charles I. 

22 

Massachusetts

MA

Bay State

Bay Way  

Feb. 06, 1788

Bay Staters or Massachusettsans

6,692,824

Deval Patrick 

Algonquian

“great hill place” or “by the little mount

Named after the natives that lived in the region. 

23 

Michigan

MI

Great Lakes State

Aqua-rama  

Jan. 26, 1837

Michiganians or Michiganders

9,895,622

Rick Snyder 

Ottawa or Chippewa

“large body of water”

Also possibly from the Chippewa Indian word “majigan” which means “clearing of land.” 

24 

Minnesota

MN

North Star State

Lakes-a-plenty  

May 11, 1858

Minnesotans

5,420,380

Mark Dayton 

Dakota

“cloudy water”

From the Minnesota River named by the Dakota Sioux. 

25 

Mississippi

MS

Magnolia State

Magnolia Meadows  

Dec. 10, 1817

Mississippians

2,991,207

Phil Bryant 

Ojibwe

“great river”

The Indian name for the river that was used on Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle’s map. 

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26 

Missouri

MO

Show Me State

Riverview  

Aug. 10, 1821

Missourians

6,044,171

Jay Nixon 

Algonquian

“dugout canoe”

From the Missouri River, after the Missouri tribe known for their dugout canoes. 

27 

Montana

MT

Treasure State

Skyview  

Nov. 08, 1889

Montanan

1,015,165

Steve Bullock 

Spanish

“mountainous”

A derivation of the Latin word “montaanus.” 

28 

Nebraska

NE

Cornhusker State

Korn-O-copia  

Mar. 01, 1867

Nebraskans; sometimes Cornhuskers

1,868,516

Dave Heineman 

Soiux

“flat waters”

Referring to the Platte River, which means “flat river” in French. 

29 

Nevada

NV

Silver State

Win-A-Lot  

Oct. 31, 1864

Nevadans

2,790,136

Brian Sandoval 

Spanish

“snow covered”

After the Sierra Nevada, or “snowy range.” 

30 

New Hampshire

NH

Granite State

Hard Rock State  

June 21, 1788

New Hampshirites; Granite Staters

1,323,459

Maggie Hassan 

English

New + name of an English county

Named for county of Hampshire, England, by Captain John Mason. 

31 

New Jersey

NJ

Garden State

Consolidated Peoples  

Dec. 18, 1787

New Jerseyites; New Jerseyans

8,899,339

Chris Christie 

English

New + name of an island

Name after the island of Jersey in the English Channel by Sir John Berkley and Sir George Carteret.  

32 

New Mexico

NM

Land of Enchantment

I Can't Believe It's Not Mexico  

Jan. 06, 1912

New Mexicans

2,085,287

Susana Martinez 

Aztec via Spanish

refers to the land north of the upper Rio Grande

Anglicized version of “Nuevo Mexico,” from Aztec meaning “place of the god Mexitli.” 

33 

New York

NY

Empire State

DollarDaze  

July 26, 1788

New Yorkers

19,651,127

Andrew Cuomo 

English

New + name of an English duke

After York, England, to honor the then Duke of York later King James II of England. 

34 

North Carolina

NC

Old North State

Phatlantic  

Nov. 21, 1789

North Carolinians

9,848,060

Pat McCrory 

Latin

North + “Charles”

From the name Carolus, in honor of King Charles I of England.  

35 

North Dakota

ND

Peace Garden State

Northland  

Nov. 02, 1889

North Dakotans

723,393

Jack Dalrymple 

Sioux

North + “ally”

After the Dakota tribe. 

36 

Ohio

OH

Buckeye State

South Lake Shores  

Mar. 01, 1803

Ohioans; or Buckeyes

11,570,808

John Kasich 

Iroquois

“large creek”

After the name of both the Ohio River and Allegheny River. Often incorrectly given as “beautiful river” 

37 

Oklahoma

OK

Sooner State

Indiana  

Nov. 16, 1907

Oklahomans

3,850,568

Mary Fallin 

Choctaw

“red people”

Invented by native American missionary Allen Wright from two Choctaw words, “ukla” meaning people and “huma” meaning red. 

38 

Oregon

OR

Beaver State

Ocean View  

Feb. 14, 1859

Oregonians

3,930,065

Kate Brown 

Uncertain

“beautiful”

First named by Major Robert Rogers in a petition to King George III.  

39 

Pennsylvania

PA

Keystone State

Gettysburg Estates  

Dec. 12, 1787

Pennsylvanians

12,773,801

Tom Corbett 

Latin

“Penn’s woods”

After Admiral William Penn. 

40 

Rhode Island

RI

Ocean State

MicroState  

May 29, 1790

Rhode Islanders

1,051,511

Lincoln Chafee 

Dutch

“red island”

Named “Roodt Eylandt” by Dutch explorer Adrian Block, it was anglicized when the region came under British rule. 

41 

South Carolina

SC

Palmetto State

Charlie  

May 23, 1788

South Carolinians

4,774,839

Nikki Haley 

Latin

South + “Charles”

from the name Carolus, in honor of King Charles I of England. 

42 

South Dakota

SD

Mount Rushmore State

South Northland  

Nov. 02, 1889

South Dakotans

844,877

Dennis Daugaard 

Sioux

South + “ally”

After the Dakota tribe. 

43 

Tennessee

TN

Volunteer State

Opry-Tune-Itee  

June 01, 1796

Tennesseans

6,495,978

Bill Haslam 

Cherokee

possibly “river with a big bend”

After the river and from a Cherokee village in the region that was called “Tanasie.” 

44 

Texas

TX

Lone Star State

Superultramax  

Dec. 29, 1845

Texans

26,448,193

Rick Perry 

Caddo

“friend”

“Tejas” referred to the Caddo tribes. The Spanish made it texas. 

45 

Utah

UT

Beehive State

Salterra  

Jan. 04, 1896

Utahns or Utahans

2,900,872

Gary Herbert 

Western Apache

“high”

Europeans took the Apache word “Yuttahih” their name for the Navajo tribes living higher in the mountains to refer to the Utes. 

46 

Vermont

VT

Green Mountain State

Ethan Allendale  

Mar. 04, 1791

Vermonters

626,630

Peter Shumlin 

French

“green mountain”

The English form of the name “Verd Mont" given by French explorer Samuel de Champlain  

47 

Virginia

VA

Old Dominion State

Washington  

June 25, 1788

Virginians

8,260,405

Terry McAuliffe 

Latin

“country of the Virgin”

After Elizabeth I of England, who was known as the “Virgin Queen” because she never married. 

48 

Washington

WA

Evergreen State

Kountry Korner  

Nov. 11, 1889

Washingtonians

6,971,406

Jay Inslee 

English

English surname

After the first U.S. president, George Washington. 

49 

West Virginia

WV

Mountain State

Friendly Folks  

June 20, 1863

West Virginians

1,854,304

Earl Ray Tomblin 

Latin

state west of Virginia

In 1863, when the western counties of Virginia were about to be admitted to the Union, delegates chose the state name over Kanawha, Allegheny, and Augusta. 

50 

Wisconsin

WI

Badger State

Dairy Kween  

May 29, 1848

Wisconsinites

5,742,713

Scott Walker 

Chippewa

possibly “grassy place”

After the Wisconsin River. Origin is uncertain. 

51 

Wyoming

WY

Equality State

Fin and Fur  

July 10, 1890

Wyomingites

582,658

Matt Mead 

Algonquian

“wiche weamiing” or “on the great plain”

After a tribal village in Pennsylvania wiped out in 1778 by a combined force of British soldiers, Tories sympathizers and Iroquois Indians. 


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