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

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

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


The name Kansas, like many U.S. state names, is derived from a Native American word.

The word is Kansa, which was the name of a Sioux tribe who lived along a river in the Kansas area.

The word “Kansa” itself was an Algonquian word.

French explorers who visited the region used the term “Kansas” to describe the area in their reporting based on the name of the tribe.

Kansas Name Meaning

The term “Kansa” in the original Algonquian translates as “south wind.”

As you might expect, Kansas shares a state name meaning with Arkansas, which was also named after a Native American tribe whose name was derived from the same Algonquian word.


Like a handful of other state names in the U.S., the name “Kentucky” has a disputed origin.

What we do know is the term first appeared in French documents regarding the region in the 18th Century.

We can also assume, as many researchers have, that the name is derived from a Native American language.

The only question is, which language?

It might have derived from the Algonquian word “kin-athiki” (the Shawnee had a similar word with a similar meaning), the Iroquois word “kentake,” or the Wyandot word “ken-tah-the.”

But no notes were made on the language of origin, so it is unclear which language was the original influence.

Kentucky Name Meaning

The meaning of Kentucky depends on which of the potential source words the name actually derived from.

If Kentucky derived from the Iroquois’ “Kentake,” which is the most similar in both spelling and pronunciation, it means “meadow land.”

If Kentucky derived from the Algonquian (or Shawnee) “kin-athiki,” it means “river bottom” or “head of river.”

This is also quite likely, given Kentucky’s adjacency to both the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

If Kentucky derived from the Wyandot “ken-tah-the,” it means “the land of tomorrow,” the least likely source of the word, in our opinion, but perhaps the most beautiful meaning of the three.

But since no one actually knows where the word came from, you get to choose a meaning for yourself.

Onward From the ‘K’ State Names

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

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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