The Literal Translation of Places in Canada & the United States
Flattened Water. Place of the Small Spring. Milky Water.
At first glance, these phrases might look like just a jumble of words, but they’re actually something way cooler: the literal translation of three state names in the United States. Can you guess which ones?
Expedia Canada has taken the names of all U.S. states and Canadian provinces and territories and put them into one map along with their translation or origin. They offer a unique insight into the forgotten history of the continent and may teach something new about your home. And you might be surprised to know a particular state’s meaning.
As Expedia puts it, state etymologies “offer a unique insight into the forgotten history of the continent and may teach something new about your home.”
The Meaning Behind Names of Places in Canada & the United States
Want to dig into the state meanings a little more? Expedia Canada includes links to its sources. So you can decide for yourself if, for example, you’d prefer knowing Alabama as “tribal town,” the translation from the American Creek language, or the more popular translation of “vegetation gatherers” or “thicket-clearers,” derived from the Choctaw language.
A lot of the state meaning variation comes down to which Native American language source you go with. Others have an obvious connection to the English language (Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North/South Carolina, Virginia) or famous figures (Washington and Pennsylvania).
It’s fun knowing the backgrounds of the state names you’ve been saying since you learned to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (that’s “Great River” to you).
Here are Expedia’s top choices for each state’s literal meaning and the language each was derived from.
Note: There are conflicting origin stories for many state names. If you’ve done any digging into this yourself, you’ll find this to be true! This map and the etymology of each state name are based on Expedia’s research, which you can read more about here on EXPEDIA.
Click NEXT to read the individual US states and their meanings (from A to W)…