10 State Names, Deciphered

24/7 Wall St. traces origins to Europe, indigenous cultures
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2018 3:47 PM CST
10 State Names, Deciphered
A road sign welcomes drivers to Vermont in Wells River, on the New Hampshire border.   (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

You need look no further than a map to find America's reputation as a melting pot. The evidence is written across the states—specifically in their names, according to 24/7 Wall St., which surveyed state websites and online resources to trace the origins of those names to England, France, Spain, and indigenous cultures. Ten notable names:

  • Alabama: from the Choctaw words "alba" (vegetation) and "amo" (gatherer)
  • California: from Califia, an island paradise described in a 16th century Spanish romance novel
  • Florida: from the Spanish word "florido," meaning "full of flowers"
  • Georgia: named for England's King George II, with the Greek "ia" suffix meaning "state of"
  • Illinois: from "Illiniwek," a name given to the Illini tribes, meaning "best people"
  • Louisiana: named for King Louis XIV of France
  • Montana: from the Spanish word "montaña," or mountain
  • Oklahoma: from the Choctaw words "okla humma," roughly translating to "red people"
  • Texas: from "teyshas," a word used by the Caddo people to describe friends or allies
  • Vermont: from "verd mont," or "green mountain" in the French language
See how the other states got their names here. (Find the most important historical event in each state here.)

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