List of U.S. place names of Spanish origin

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As a consequence of former Spanish and, later, Mexican sovereignty over lands that are now part of the United States, there are many places in the country, mostly in the southwest, with names of Spanish origin. Florida, New Mexico, and Louisiana also were at times under Spanish control. There are also several places in the United States with Spanish names as a result to other factors. Some of these names preserved ancient writing.

Authenticity and origin[edit]

Not all Spanish place names in the United States originate from the Spanish colonial period. And in fact, not all Spanish-sounding place names in the country are really Spanish. Spanish-sounding place names can be classified into three categories:

• Colonial: Spanish names that were given in the Spanish colonial period, or adaptations of names originally given in the colonial period to the same place or to nearby related places. Example: Los Angeles, California, shortened from the original Spanish name of the settlement, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula. • Post-colonial: Spanish place names that have no history of being used during the colonial period for the place in question or for nearby related places. Example: Lake Buena Vista, Florida, named in 1969 after a street in Burbank, California. • Non-colonial: Spanish place names in areas that were never under Spanish control adopted due to other processes. Salamanca, New York, named for a Spaniard connected with the railroad company that built the town, and Toledo, Ohio, named after the city in Spain because the Anglo settlers wanted to do so, are prominent examples. • Fake: place names that look like they're Spanish, but are in fact grammatically incorrect modern inventions given by people who do not speak or understand Spanish, but who wanted a Spanish-sounding name. Example: Sierra Vista, Arizona, named in 1956, with the intended meaning of "mountain view." Idiomatic Spanish names with that meaning would be "Mirasierra" or "Miramonte." This is not to be confused with grammatically incorrect adaptations of colonial names, where a name that was used in the Spanish colonial period is adapted to English without regard for Spanish grammar. • Non-Spanish in origin: A good example of this is Eldorado, Illinois, where it comes from two Anglo last names being run together.


  • Arizona (either from árida zona, meaning "Arid Zone", or from a Spanish word of Basque origin meaning "The Good Oak")
  • California (from the name of a fictional island country in Las sergas de Esplandián, a popular Spanish chivalric romance by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo)
  • Colorado (meaning "Red [colored]" or "Ruddy". Named after the Colorado River, whose waters were of that color.)
  • Florida Meaning "Flowery" or "Florid", because it was discovered by Ponce de León on Easter Sunday, called Pascua Florida to distinguish this holiday, which occurs in springtime when flowers are abundant, from other Christian holidays called Pascua in Spanish, such as Christmas and Epiphany.
  • Montana (from montaña, meaning "Mountain")
  • Nevada (meaning "Snowy", from Sierra Nevada, meaning "snow capped range of mountains". Sierra means "a range of mountains,", literally "a saw," from Latin serra.
  • New Mexico (Calqued from Nuevo México)
  • Texas (based on the Caddo word teshas, meaning "friends" or "allies", which was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in East Texas). The letter x had a "sh" sound in 16th-century Spanish which gradually evolved to an "h" sound, which under later spelling reforms was assigned to the letter j (which originally also had a "zh", "j" or "y" sound). Thus the modern Spanish spelling Tejas, which sounds like "Tehas".
  • Utah (Spanish word of Nahuatl origin, first used by friar Gerónimo Salmerón as Yuta or Uta in Spanish[1])


Counties and parishes[edit]

This is not an exhaustive list.

Populated places[edit]

This is not an exhaustive list.
























This is not an exhaustive list.


Mountains and hills[edit]

Streets and roads[edit]

This is not an exhaustive list.




Bays and inlets[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Walter Romig, Michigan Place Names, p. 86
  3. ^ Walter Romig, Michigan Place Names, p. 187
  4. ^ Native American placenames of the ... - William Bright - Google Libros. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 

External links[edit]