Sunday, July 9, 2023

Name Origins of the United States Part III

  By Tiffany Amber Stockton

In June, I shared the second set of state name origins. I'm splitting them up into 5 groups in the name of brevity, to avoid bogging down a long post. Besides, it's summer, and most of you likely are looking for a quick, entertaining read. :) You can read last month's post if you missed it.

Today, it's time for the next 10 state name history stories. So, let's go!


One thing I found interesting with this list is it's almost a 50/50 split of the state names starting with a letter of the alphabet from either the first half or second half of the 26 letters. Montana is the 26th state out of 50 and the last one with an "M." The remaining 24 states come from the latter half of the alphabet. It would have been fun to see 25 of the states start with letters in the first half of the alphabet and the other 25 from the second half, but we're close!

Massachusetts comes directly from the Algonquian word Massachusett that references the people living in the area, and means "at the large hill."

Michigan is also based on an Algonquin word, meshi-gami, meaning "big lake."

Minnesota, like many other Midwest states, comes from a Native American language. In this case, the Dakota word mnisota means "cloudy, milky water."

Mississippi literally means "big river" in Algonquin Ojibwa, although it’s based on the French variation of the word.

Missouri relates to the Algonquin word wimihsoorita, which translates to "people of the big canoes."

Montana has some Spanish flair that links back to the Latin mons, for "mountains."

Nebraska stems from the Sioux name for the Platte River, omaha ni braska, meaning "flat water."

Nevada comes from the Spanish name of nieve or nevara for the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountain range, which essentially means "snowy mountains," or "snowcapped."

New Hampshire is the first of many states and cities named as new outposts of other parts of the world. In this case, Hampshire was a county in Southampton, England.

New Jersey was coined by Sir George Carteret of the Channel Island of Jersey.

And that's all for today. If you're like me and LOVE puzzles, download this PDF for some puzzle challenge fun. You might be able to solve it on your own without reading the rest of the blogs in this set, or you can save it and add to it in future months. :)


* Which one of these states was the most fascinating to you?

* Do you live in any of the 10 featured states this month? If so, do you have any other unique tidbits about your state?

* What do you think might be the origin of any of the other 20 states? (You'll learn about them throughout the rest of the year.)

** This note is for our email readers. Please do not reply via email with any comments. View the blog online and scroll down to the comments section.

Leave answers to these questions or any comments you might have on this post in the comment box below. For those of you who have stuck around this far, I'm sending a FREE autographed book to one person every month from the comments left on each of my blog posts. You never know when your comment will be a winner! Subscribe to comments so you'll know if you've won and need to get me your mailing information.

Come back on the 9th of August for my next foray into historical tidbits to share.

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Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also a professional copywriter/copyeditor. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help improve their lives in a variety of ways.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and four cats in southeastern Kentucky. In the 20 years she's been a professional writer, she has sold twenty-six (26) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. This is such a fun series, thank you! I guess the most interesting to me is Minnesota. Is the water really cloudy or milky? I've never been there.

    1. Considering it's also known as the "land of 1000 lakes," it's likely some of that water is muddy and cloudy, and if the mud is more like sand, perhaps it can appear milky. I've only been to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, so I can't speak from experience of actually seeing it first hand. :)

  2. Loving this series but I love all the HHH blogs! I know my home state's history as I taught Oklahoma History for 16 years!