Virginia


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Latin

Meaning: “Maid, virgin.”

Pronunciation: (vur-JIHN-yuh)

Nicknames: Vira, Viri, Ginny

Detail: At the end of the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), who was known as the “Virgin Queen” because she never married, gave the name Virginia to the whole area explored by the 1584 expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh along the coast of North America.

Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe was the wife of American writer Edgar Allan Poe.

Nevada


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Spanish

Meaning: “Snowy, snow-covered.”

Pronunciation: (nuh-VA-duh); (neh-VAH-dah)

Nicknames: Neve, Neva, Vada

Detail: Although the name is derived from the Spanish word nevada “snowy, snow-covered”, the local pronunciation of the state’s name is not Spanish (neh-VAH-dah) but good ol’ American (nuh-VA-duh).

Iowa


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Native American

Meaning: “Sleepy ones.”

Pronunciation: (AHY-oh-wah)

Nicknames: Io

Detail: The state of Iowa was named for the Native Americans living in that territory at the time, the Iowa. Despite the report of the 1879 General Assembly of Iowa, which proclaimed that this word means “the beautiful land”, it is actually a Dakota Sioux word given to the Iowas in jest meaning “sleepy ones”.

Indiana


Gender: Feminine

Origin: English

Meaning: “Land of Indians.”

Pronunciation: (in-dee-AN-uh)

Nicknames: Indie, Ana

Detail: This state has one of the most obvious names in the US with the rather ironic meaning, “the land of Indians.” It was given to the Indiana Territory by the United States Congress when Indiana was created from the Northwest Territory in 1800.

Arizona


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Pima (Native American); Basque

Meaning: “Having a little spring; or good oak.”

Pronunciation: (air-ih-ZOH-nuh)

Nicknames: Ari, Ara, Azza, Zona, Zoni, Zoe

Detail: Arizona was inherited from the Spanish Arizonac, a word virtually identical to Basque arizonac “good oak”. However, it isn’t clear why the Spanish would choose a Basque word for (at the time) a Mexican territory. The name of this state is most probably a Native American word, possibly an O’odham (Pima) word meaning “having a little spring” made up of ali “little” + sona-g “spring-having”—plus a little corruption from the Spanish.

Alaska


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Aleut

Meaning: “The mainland, the land facing the sea.”

Pronunciation: (uh-LAS-uh)

Nicknames: Alla, Alas, Laski

Detail: Alaska came from an Aleut (Yupik) word alaxsxaq (ah-LOCK-shock) “the mainland, the land facing the sea”. The Russians were the first Europeans in Alaska and they pronounced the word (al-YA-ska). When the US purchased Alaska from the Russians the name was only slightly modified to what it is today.

Title character in John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

Alabama


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Choctaw

Meaning: Uncertain, perhaps “Plant gatherers.”

Pronunciation: (al-uh-BAM-uh)

Nicknames: Alla, Bama

Detail: Alabama was named after the Alabama River. The river was named for the Alabama Indians originally living in region of that river. It is possible that Alabama originated as a compound noun bases on Choctaw, alba “vegetation, plants, herbs” + amo “gatherer, picker”. “Plant gatherers” would be an apt description of the Alabama Indians of that time since they did clear land for farming.

Suki


Gender: Feminine

Origin: Japanese

Meaning: “Beloved.”

Pronunciation: (SOO-kee)

Nicknames: Suk, Sook

Sidenote: I am loving the supernatural hoopla, so I chose Suki to honor Sookie Stackhouse from the Sookie Stackhouse series. Alright, Suki and Sookie have nothing in common other than being homophones, but following tangents are like taking a trip to fun city.

Sookie is actually a pet name for Susan (from Hebrew word shoshan meaning “Lily”), used in the Southern United States.

I LOVE this series. Sookie is not the standard kick-butt heroine we are used to seeing in Urban Fantasy books. Yet, she kicks-butt in her own way, by being brave, fun and flawed. She is far from perfect and that makes her more real and even more lovable.

And tonight is the season premiere of True Blood. *swoons* Let the paranormal merriment begin!

Huckleberry


Gender: Masculine

Origin: American

Meaning: “Humble.”

Pronunciation: (HUHK-uhl-ber-ee)

Nicknames: Huck

Detail: Both in agriculture and in the American vocabulary, the huckleberry has been humble. In 1800s America, huckleberry meant “a small thing.”

Huckleberry was chosen for the title role in one of the most well-known American novels, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

“We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”

Maverick


Maverick (Tom Cruise) in Top Gun

Gender: Masculine

Origin: English

Meaning: “An independent, free spirit.”

Pronunciation: (MAV-er-ik)

Nicknames: Mac, Mav

Detail: Maverick’s language of origin is English-American. The name’s meaning is “a wild nonconformist”.

Lark


Gender: Feminine 

Origin: English

Meaning: “Bird.”

Pronunciation: (lark)

Nicknames: Lar, Larky

Detail: Lark is a type of lighthearted, playful songbird.

The River Lark is a river in England, which crosses the border between Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Lark means “Cloud” in Australian Aboriginal