Whether you’re working on an ‘A’ assignment or looking forward to that next intense game of Scattergories where an ‘A’ comes up on the die, if you need to know which states start with ‘A,’ we’ve got you covered.

Here are all the ‘A’ states in the U.S. and how they got their ‘A’ names.

states that start with A, a giant letter A sits in the center of a black and white US map set against a blue-green background


The first ‘A’ state in the country alphabetically, Alabama was named after a Native American tribe.

The Alabamans were a smaller tribal group, and part of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy.

They remained in Alabama until the 1830s when they were forcibly relocated to the west.

Alabama Name Meaning

The original tribal name “Alabama” is believed to have come from two Choctaw words – alba and amo – which roughly translates as “vegetation gatherer.”


Like Alabama, Alaska’s state name was derived from a word that was native to its people when Europeans discovered it.

In the case of Alaska, the native language was Aleut, the language spoken by indigenous peoples living in the Aleutian Islands.

Alaska Name Meaning

The root Aleut form of the word Alaska is “alaxsxaq.”

The meaning of the word, according to the official State of Alaska website, is “the object towards which the action of the sea is directed.”


Of the ‘A’ state names on this list, the origin of the name “Arizona” is the most hotly debated.

The word might have come from a place already in existence (possibly named Aleh-zon or Ali-Shonak), which might have sounded a lot like “Arizona” to non-native speakers.

Or it might have been native in another way.

Arizona was once Spanish/Mexican territory, and there is some evidence an “Arizona” already existed in the territory before the land was ceded to the United States.

This argument is bolstered by the fact there are other “Arizonas” in both Central and South America.

Arizona Name Meaning

The meaning of “Arizona” depends on which origin story you believe.

If the word was derived from an existing Aleh-zon or Ali-Shonak, then Arizona means “place of the small spring.”

If the word was derived from the Spanish (Basque) word, then Arizona means “the good oak tree.”


Lastly on our list of state names that start with an ‘A’ is Arkansas.

Like Alabama, the state is named after a Native American tribe. Though, probably not the Native American tribe you’re expecting.

Arkansas is actually named after the Quapaw tribe.

So, where did the term “Arkansas” come from?

The Algonquian languages.

The Shawnee of the Ohio River Valley (an Algonquian-speaking tribe) called the Quapaws the “Arkansas,” and French explorers carried the name southward.

Arkansas Name Meaning

In the original Algonquian, the term “Arkansas” means “south wind.”

Onward From the ‘A’ State Names

So, there you have them, the four U.S. states that start with the letter ‘A.’

Now, it’s time to make a big impression on that school report or drop a few knowledge bombs on your next game night.

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