Whether you’re working on a ‘C’ assignment (alphabetically-speaking we hope, not grade-wise) or looking forward to that next intense game of Scattergories where a ‘C’ comes up on the die, if you need to know which states start with ‘C,’ we’ve got you covered.

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

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


California was named for a mythical (and fictional) island.

At the time Baja California was discovered in the mid-16th century, there was a very popular Spanish novel named Las sergas de Esplandián, written by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo.

In that novel, there was a mythical island named “California.”

Spanish explorers believed the Baja California peninsula to be an island when they first reached it and named it after the island in the novel.

As Spanish settlers moved further north, the territory known as “California” expanded to encompass California and other western states, including Nevada and Utah.

This area was designated “Alta California.”

When the Spanish ceded Alta California to the U.S. in 1848, the U.S. designated the name “California” to the first portion of Alta California to join the union and officially become a state.

While the exact root of Montalvo’s made-up island name, California, is uncertain, there a couple of schools of thought as to where the name might have originated.

One is that the word California was derived from the Arabic word “khalifa.”

The other is that Montalvo borrowed the name California from the 11-century poem The Song of Roland, which includes a place named “Californe.”

California Name Meaning

California’s name meaning depends on its origin.

If the name was taken from “khalifa,” it means “successor” in English.

If the name was taken from The Song of Roland, its source is unclear.

The poem is the first time the place name “Californe” was ever recorded.

But it’s worth noting that all the other places named in the poem were real.


Along with their first letter, Colorado shares one thing in common with California when it comes to names – both were named by the Spanish.

In Colorado’s case, though, the name was not quite so mysterious.

The word comes directly from the Spanish language.

Colorado Name Meaning

Colorado translates in English as “colored” or, more often, “colored red.”

It is an adjective form used in certain instances, such as in repollo colorado (red cabbage) and rijol colorado (red bean).


Lastly in our ‘C’ state names, Connecticut, like many states in the U.S., gets its name from a word in a Native American language.

The word was a Mohegan-Pequot word, and its original form was “Quinatucquet” (also recorded as “Quonehtacut,” “Quenticut” and “Quinnetukut” by early explorers).

Connecticut Name Meaning

The word “quinatucquet” translates as “long tidal river.”

This surely referred to the Connecticut River, which cuts all the way through the state from North to South.

Onward From the ‘C’ State Names

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

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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