People have long been fascinated with very long words and extremely long names in particular. A famous example is the Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, or Llanfair PG, for short. Names are meant to describe and distinguish one place or person from another. While long names might be unique and better distinguish a place, other times short names are preferred.
When settlers came to the United States more than three centuries ago, they had many opportunities to name new cities. Often, they named towns after people who have contributed in some way to the town’s development. Or they named towns after landmarks or historical events. Sometimes these names were meaningful, and sometimes less so.
Whether they have a deep meaning or not, 24/7 Tempo set out to discover the town or city with the shortest name in each state.
In most states, these places have names consisting of four letters or fewer, with one exception at seven letters. This doesn’t come close to other towns around the world, where even one letter can be a name. In fact, there is a village in Sweden a one-letter name: Å.
Cities around the world choose their names for a variety of reasons. A place like Cairo was named to remember its glory in ancient history — Cairo means “one who is victorious” in Arabic. Other cities are simply named to describe the location, like Shanghai, which means “city above the sea.”
Sometimes, the idea behind a community’s name is to distinguish it from others and may therefore represent a geographic feature. Towns sometimes also change their names, either because they have grown too much or they do it as a publicity stunt. The resulting names can be quite amusing — here are 50 of the least common town names in every state.
To identify the shortest town name in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed all incorporated places tracked by the U.S. Census. These are places with a charter recognized by state and elected officials. We did not consider Census Designated Places (CDPs), which are statistical entities. Hawaii, where all places are considered CDPs, was an exception. To count the characters in each place’s name we counted “town,” “city,” “village,” “municipality,” etc. only when these were parts of the official title. For example, with Gas City, Indiana, “City” is part of the city’s proper name so we counted it, whereas the “city” in Gas, Kansas, is not part of the official name and was not counted. Most states’ shortest place names are tied with other places in the state. Ties were broken by taking the shortest place name with the largest population. Population figures are five-year averages from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
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