State Names & Nicknames
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National & State Symbols
Texas State Names (Etymology of Names)
Texas Name Etymology and State Nicknames
Texas is the second most populous (after the State of California) and the second-largest of the 50 states (after Alaska) in the United States of America, and the largest state in the 48 contiguous United States. Geographically located in the South Central part of the country, Texas shares an international border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south and borders the U.S. states of New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east.
The Caddo Indians of eastern Texas called their group of tribes the "Tejas," meaning "those who are friends".
Origin of Texas State Name
From an Indian word meaning "friends." Texas comes from the word "teysha" meaning "hello friend" in the language of the Caddo Indian tribes. Spanish explorers and settlers used this word to refer to the friendly tribes throughout Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
The state motto of Texas is "Friendship." The word, Texas, or Tejas, was the Spanish pronunciation of a Caddo Indian word meaning "friends" or "allies." (Acts of 1930, fourth called session of the 41st Legislature, p. 105.)
Lone Star State
The Lone Star has been a symbol for Texas since its origins as an independent state. A single star was part of the Long Expedition (1819), Austin Colony (1821) and several flags of the early Republic of Texas. Some say that the star represented the wish of many Texans to achieve statehood in the United States. Others say it originally represented Texas as the lone state of Mexico which was attempting to uphold its rights under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. At least one "lone star" flag was flown during the Battle of Concepcion and the Siege of Bexar (1835). Joanna Troutman's flag with a single blue star was raised over Velasco on January 8, 1836. Another flag with a single star was raised at the Alamo (1836) according to a journal entry by David Crockett. One carried by General Sam Houston's Texans army (which defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto ) may have been captured and taken to Mexico. Another "lone star" flag, similar to the current one but with the red stripe above the white, was also captured the following year (1837) and returned to Mexico. The "David G. Burnet" flag, of "an azure ground" (blue background) "with a large golden star central" was adopted by the Congress of the Republic of Texas in December of 1836. It continued in use as a battle flag after being superseded in January of 1839. The 1839 design has been used to symbolize the Republic and the "Lone Star State" ever since.
Why the Lone Star—what did it symbolize? Some say it was a proclamation of independence and carried that meaning since the filibustering expedition of James Long in 1819. Others say it represented Texas’s leadership among Mexicans partisans in revolt to restore the Constitution of 1824. Others believe it indicated the desire of many Texans to emulate and join the United States (a desire fulfilled with the annexation of 1845). In 1933, the Texas state legislature codified the colors of red, blue and white as representations of “bravery, loyalty, and purity.”
Today most people associate the Lone Star with a feisty spirit of independence characteristic of true Texans. Businesses, festivals, and individuals adopt the symbol as a way to express their identity and allegiance. The Lone Star appears on car dealerships, restaurants, monuments, engraved invitations. The Texas state quarter, issued in 2004, shows a prominent Lone Star superimposed over the shape of the state. At its unveiling, Governor Rick Perry explained the message underlying the coin’s design: “The Lone Star is one of the most identifiable symbols of Texas. . . . Its continued presence today reminds people that Texans are a different breed, set apart by their fierce individualism and their unyielding desire for freedom.”
Its huge cattle "industry" led it to be known as the Beef State .
In 1882, P.T. Barnum brought the largest African elephant ever kept in captivity from London to the United States to be used in his circus. The elephant's name was Jumbo. The elephant came to signify anything that was unusually large. Texas, the largest state in the Union, became known as "The Jumbo State" at that time.
The Banner State
Probably originated from Texas' political influence based on her large population. Charles Ledyard Norton wrote, in Political Americanisms (Longmans, Green and Company, New York and London, 1890), "The state, county, town or other political sub-division that give the largest vote for a party candidate is termed 'the banner state.'..." Other states have been referred to as "Banner States," but this nickname's connection with Texas seems to have been more lasting.
The Blizzard State
Texas has been called "The Blizzard State" because of the frequent wind storms which sweep over the state. South Dakota is also referred to as "The Blizzard State."
In 1961, the New Yorker called it the Super-American State.
Texas Postal Code
Texas Resident's Name
The people of Texas usually call themselves Texans. However, Texian was generally used in the early period of the state's history.
"Texans/Texians" (tek'se-ans) adj. A citizen or the culture of the Texas section of the province of Coahuila y Texas, Republic of Mexico or the subsequent Republic of Texas. As president of the Republic, Mirabeau B. Lamar used the term to foster nationalism. Early colonists and leaders in the Texas Revolution, many of whom were influential during the Civil War and who were respected as elder statesmen well into the 1880s, used Texian in English and Texienne in French. However, in general usage after annexation, Texan replaced Texian. The Texas Almanac still used the term Texian as late as 1868.
The etymologies of some US state names are more obvious than others, derived from the Spanish or French tongue. Though, more than half of the US state names come from Native American tribal languages, with several still a mystery to scholars and historians.