The only letter that is not in any state name is Q.
That’s the quick answer, but read on for some interesting facts about letters that appear in state names.
Any guesses on the other rare letters? There are two that only appear twice. I’ll let you think …
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What Letter is Not in Any State Name? (+Fun Facts)
Q is the only letter of the alphabet that does not make an appearance in any state name.
Let’s explore other uncommon letters in US state names, the most common letters, plus tons of other fun facts & maps.
Least Common Letters in US State Names
So what are the only letters that appear only once in state names?
Did you guess the correct answer– J or Z? J only makes an appearance in “New Jersey,” and Z only in “Arizona.”
How about the next rarest, with only two occurrences each? There are three of them. I’ll give you a moment…
If you guessed B, X, and F, that is the correct answer! The only states with a B are “Nebraska” and “Alabama.” Only “New Mexico” and “Texas” contain X. F only shows up in Florida and California.
What is the most rare letter in English? If you analyze the dictionary, you’ll find the fewest occurrences of Q, J, and Z. This is reflected in the word game Scrabble, where Q and Z are the most valuable Scrabble letters! They are each worth 8 points.
Most Common Letters in US State Names
Let’s shake it up a little. Which letter do you think appears most commonly? Can you rank the top 5?
Alright, alright. I won’t keep you in suspense.
The top 5 letters in US state names are…
You may notice that 3 out of the 5 most common letters are vowels. Let’s take a look at the number of vowels in each state, not including Y.
You can see that Louisiana and South Carolina tie for most vowels–6! Only a handful of states have 5 vowels: California, North Carolina, West Virginia, and South Dakota.
And how do the most common letters in the state names stack up to the most common letters in the English language overall? The 5 most common letters in English are:
Both lists (most common letters in the state names and most common letters in English) contain the vowels A, I, and O. While E is the single most common letter in English, it doesn’t even make the top 5 in the state list! It doesn’t fall far behind, though, at rank number 6. And while R is very common in English (3rd), it only ranks 7th in state names.
How the States Got Named
What accounts for these slight differences between the most common letters in states and the most common letters in English? Perhaps it is because state names often come from the indigenous language of the area since the Native populations occupied the land first and often established a naming convention.
What other factors influence the letters in a state name? The longer the state name, the more letters will be represented. So let’s also take a look at the length of every state name.
As you can see, the longest state names include both Dakotas, both Carolinas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. There are lots of states with short names between 1 and 6 letters. The very shortest are Utah, Ohio, and Iowa.
The following map shows clusters of similar state names based on their letters.
States that are the same color have names that are more similar to each other, according to a computer algorithm. In the East and South, many of the names come from European origins. Many of these states are named after places in England, France, or Spain.
In contrast, names of Native American origin are more common as you move West.
So in conclusion, what is the only letter that does not appear in our US state names? Q is the only letter that can’t be found!
Other rare letters include J, Z, B, X, and F!
The most common letters found are A, I, N, O, and S.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration of the letters that make up state names and now know that when asked, “what letter of the alphabet can’t be found in any state in America,” the answer is Q!