Whether you’re working on an ‘O’ assignment or looking forward to that next intense game of Scattergories where an ‘O’ comes up on the die, if you need to know which states start with an ‘O,’ we’ve got you covered.
Here are all of the ‘O’ states in the U.S. and how they got their ‘O’ names.
The name “Ohio” comes from the Iroquoian language.
When French explorers arrived in the region in the 17th century, the Iroquois referred to the body of water that we know today as the Ohio River as “ohi-yo.”
While the French had another phrase for the river – “La Belle Riviere” – when they first discovered it, English settlers adopted the Iroquois term.
The state of Ohio is named after the river.
Ohio Name Meaning
The Iroquoian word “ohi-yo” means either “great river” or “large creek,” depending on which linguist you ask.
While many state names were derived from Native American tribal names or words, Oklahoma is the only state explicitly named by a Native American Chief.
The Chief was Allen Wright, a Choctaw chief during the 1860s.
When negotiations were taking place for a new Native American territory for displaced tribes during the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1866, Wright suggested the name “Oklahoma” for the territory.
Though, it wasn’t adopted until 1890. (Before that, the territory was simply referred to as “Indian Territory.”)
Seventeen years later, when Oklahoma became a state, they kept the name.
Oklahoma Name Meaning
Oklahoma derives from two Choctaw words: “okla” and “humma.”
“Okla” means “people” and “humma” means “red.”
Combined, “Oklahoma” translates literally as “red people.”
Oregon’s name has a somewhat elusive and debated history, with several theories as to its origins.
One popular theory suggests the name “Oregon” might have come from a 1765 proposal for a western British colony by Major Robert Rogers, an influential colonial frontiersman.
Rogers referred to the territory as “Ouragon” in his proposal.
Another theory posits that “Oregon” originates from the Spanish word “orejón.”
A third theory is that “Oregon” comes from “Ouaricon,” a term that was found on a French map of the area from the 18th century.
The term referred to a river, which might have been the Columbia River.
Despite these various theories, the true etymology of “Oregon” is unclear.
Oregon Name Meaning
The meaning of Oregon’s name depends on which origin story you subscribe to.
If Oregon came from “Ouragon,” as in Major Rogers proposal, it is believed to be based on the French word “ouragan,” which means “windstorm” or “hurricane.”
If Oregon came from the Spanish “orejón,” it means “big ear.”
If Oregon came from the term “Ouricon” found on the French map, its origin and meaning are unclear.
Onward From the ‘O’ State Names
So, there you have them, the U.S. states that start with the letter ‘O.’
Now, it’s time to make a big impression on that school report or drop a few knowledge bombs on your next game night.