Virginia.—The oldest of the states, was so called in honor of Queen Elizabeth, the “Virgin Queen,” in whose reign Sir Walter Raleigh made his first attempt to colonize that region.

Florida.—Ponce de Leon landed on the coast of Florida on Easter Sunday, and called the country in commemoraticn of the day, which was the Pasqua Florida of the Spaniards, or ” Feast of Flowers.”

Louisiana was called after Louis the Fourteenth, who at one time owned that section of the country.

Alabama was so named by the Indians, and signifies ” Here we Rest.”

Mississippi is likewise an Indian name, meaning ” Long River.”

Arkansas, from Kansas, the Indian word for “smoky water.” Its prefix was really arc, the French word for “bow.”

The Carolinas were originally one tract, and were called ” Carolana,” after Charles the Ninth of France.

Georgia owes its name to George the Second of England, who first established a colony there in 1732.

Tennessee is the Indian name for the ” River of the Bend,” i. e., the Mississippi which forms its western boundary.

Kentucky is the Indian name for “at the head of the river.”

Ohio means “beautiful;” Iowa, “drowsy ones;” Minnesota, “cloudy water,” and Wisconsin, ” wild-rushing channel.”

Illinois is derived from the Indian word Illini, men, and the French suffix ois, together signifying ” tribe of men.”

Michigan was called by the name giv en the lake, fish-weir, which was so styled from its fancied resemblance to a fish trap.

Missouri is from the Indian word ” muddy,” which more properly applies to the river that flows through it.

Oregon owes its Indian name also to its principal river.

Cortez named California.

Massachusetts is the Indian for ” the country around the great hills.” Connecticut, from the Indian Quon-ch-ta-Cut, signifying ” Long River.” Maryland, after Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles the First, of England.

New York was named by the Duke of York.

Pennsylvania means “Penn’s woods,” and was so called after William Penn, its original owner. Delaware after Lord De la Ware.

New Jersey, so called in honor of Sir George Carteret, who was governor of the island of Jersey, in the British channel.

Maine was called after the province of Maine, in France, in compliment of Queen Henrietta of England, who owned that province.

Source:  History of Ray County, Missouri, by Missouri Historical Company, St. Louis, 1881, pages 195-6



  1. This is interesting reading and a good find to explain the meaning of our states names. Thank you Vicki,

    The Drowsy one,
    Wayne, Cedar Falls, IA

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