Q&AZ: What's The Origin Of Arizona's Name?

By Matthew Casey
Published: Monday, June 29, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, June 29, 2020 - 11:56am

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Q&AZ is supported in part by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

arizona welcome sign
Paul Atkinson/KJZZ
An Arizona welcome sign.

A listener asked through KJZZ's Q&AZ reporting project what it the origin of our state's name.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, the Spanish sometimes spelled Arizona with an S or even two Ss. And it was located somewhere in what are now borderlands. But scholars disagree on the meaning and the source of the name.

Some concluded that it was a native word, Tohono O'odham or Pima, that meant small spring or place of the small spring.

Others have pointed to evidence hinting that Arizona is a Basque word that means the "good oak tree." One said that in the 1700s, a Mexican with Basque heritage founded a place called Arizona. It was located in present-day Sonora.

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