Arizona State Names (Etymology of Names)

Arizona Name Origin and State Nicknames

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western United States and of the Mountain West states. It is the sixth largest and the 15th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona is one of the Four Corners states. It has borders with New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and the State of California, and Mexico, and one point in common with the southwestern corner of Colorado. Arizona's border with Mexico is 389 miles (626 km) long, on the northern border of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.

 The word Arizona comes from one of the following (its origin is not certain): the Aztec Indian word "arizuma," that means "silver-bearing," from the Tohono O'odham Indian word "Aleh-zone" which means "small spring," or the Pima Indian word "Ali shonak" which also means "small spring."

  • Grand Canyon State
  • Copper State
  • Apache State
  • The Baby State
  • Aztec State
  • Italy of America
  • Sand Hill State
  • Sunset State
  • Valentine State

Origin of Arizona State Name

From the Indian "Arizonac," meaning "little spring" or "young spring."

It's said that a mining speculator named Charles D. Poston first suggested the name Arizona in a petition to the United States Congress to make Arizona a legal territory.

The name is derived from a combination of two words from the Papago Indian dialect of the Pima language; "Aleh" and "Zon" together as "Aleh-zon" meaning "little spring." The "little spring", located in Mexican territory, is near a large silver discovery made in Arizona Creek.

Some scholars believe that the state's name comes from a Basque aritz onak ("good oak") and was applied to the territory because the oak trees reminded the Basque settlers in the area of their homeland.

Arizona Nicknames

This popular nickname, "Grand Canyon State," is for Arizona references the incomparable Grand Canyon in the northern part of the state, one of the world's natural wonders. Also, the nickname, "Copper State," celebrates its fabulous mineral wealth.

Grand Canyon State

Arizona's most popular nickname celebrates its most famous natural feature, the Grand Canyon. Arizona was carved out of New Mexico Territory after a lot of thought struggle and bickering. At one time the plan was to divide New Mexico Territory on an East-West gridline with Arizona taking the bottom half. Had that been done, the Grand Canyon would be in New Mexico.

Copper State

Celebrates its mineral wealth, and is also represented by a copper-colored star on its flag

The Baby State

When Arizona was admitted to the union in 1912, it quickly gained the nickname The Baby State, which it held on to until 1959 when Alaska was admitted.

Apache State

Its connection with American Indians gave Arizona the name Apache State

Italy of America

The Italy of America nickname compares the beautiful and scenic mountain regions of the state of Arizona with the mountains of Italy.

Aztec State

This nickname was probably in reference to the Aztec place names found in the Gila and Salt River valleys. Some of the ruins along these rivers may have been built by the Aztecs.

Sand Hill State

Sand Hill State is a reference to the desert-like appearance of many areas throughout the state.

Sunset State

This nickname most certainly stemmed from the beautiful sunsets throughout the state and particularly at the Grand Canyon. Arizona does provide a magnificent foreground for dramatic sunsets.

Valentine State

Arizona gained statehood on February 14, 1912


  • The Grand Canyon State (on its license plate)

Arizona Postal Code

  • AZ

Arizona Resident's Name

  • Arizonan - Official (recommended by US GPO)
  • Arizonian - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Sand Cutter - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
State Names
State Names & Nicknames

The Etymologies of US State Names