Tennessee, Idaho, Minnesota -to us, they are just place names, but in the Native American languages they were derived from, they meant something. Even names like York and Carolina that were imported from Europe once meant something concrete. Cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust of The Atlas of True Names created a map of the US that translate all the state names, and the larger cities, into their original meanings. Most describe the land or people who once lived there, but some are quite amusing, like Chicago, which translates to Stink Onions, and New Mexico, seen here as New Navel of the Moon (which, of course, means Mexico is the Navel of the Moon). How accurate are they? In 7th grade state history class, I was taught that Kentucky means "bloody battleground," but here it is labeled Meadowland. The exact origin is undetermined. See the zoomable interactive map at Slate. Link
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why do they have "land of the" in the names? Mississippi means great river not "land of the great river"
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