1767: US State Names

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
US State Names
Technically DC isn't a state, but no one is too pedantic about it because they don't want to disturb the snakes.
Title text: Technically DC isn't a state, but no one is too pedantic about it because they don't want to disturb the snakes.

Explanation[edit]

Randall has taken a map of the United States of America labeled "Geography Challenge: Name all 50 States" and filled in the states with words that sound similar to the states' names. The joke is that Randall is apparently terrible at remembering states by heart, or else that he interpreted "name" as "give a name to" and is giving each state a name similar to but different from its previous name. A similar joke is also seen in 1554: Spice Girls. Songs such as the 50 Nifty United States make these issues seem rarer, thus making it funnier. Below is the table.

This also may be a play on the ambiguity of the phrase "Name all 50 states". When you are asked to "name" something, it can be a request to supply its given name or to come up with a new name for it. Randall has apparently taken the latter interpretation. He also may be playing with the distinction between an object's identity and its label, e.g., "The state of Texas (identity) is named Hexxus (label)", though you can argue that "Texas" is also a label.

This comic is similar to 1759: British Map. Also note that the text at the top of the comic is not in all caps.

List of States[edit]

Below are the Randall's fictional state names, next to the actual ones in parenthesis, and a short explanation for each one.

Alberta (Alaska)
Alberta is a Canadian province.
Arkanoids (Arkansas)
Arkanoid is an arcade game, developed by Taito in 1986.
Bandana (Alabama)
A bandana is a large handkerchief cloth, worn either around the head or neck. Often used in Westerns.
Cafeteria (California)
A cafeteria is both a kind of restaurant and a name for a lunch room that serves food. California is large and diverse, offering a wide variety of choices. California also grows a large proportion of common vegetables available in the US (Source), making it a 'Cafeteria' for the country.
Candice (Kansas)
Candice is an alternate spelling of the girl's name "Candace", which comes from the Latinized version of "kandake," a title used in the Kingdom of Kush (an ancient African monarchy) for a reigning queen, queen consort, or queen mother; possibly used for female members of the royal family in general.
Colocated (Colorado)
May refer to computer servers located in a colocation centre, or to collocation, a linguistics term for words or terms that appear together with a frequency greater than chance.
Connectfour (Connecticut)
Connect Four is a two-player game, in which the objective is to connect four of your checkers in a row while preventing your opponent from doing the same. It has already been mentioned in 1002: Game AIs.
Dakota (South Dakota)
Setting up the joke in North Dakota.
Delorean (Delaware)
The DeLorean DMC-12 is a car, made famous as the time machine in the Back to the Future movies.
District of Colubrids (District of Columbia)
The Colubridae are the biggest family of snakes, accounting for about two thirds of the world's species. As the title text mentions, the District of Columbia, although not part of any state, is technically not a state itself, but is usually labeled on the maps like the 50 others for practical reasons. Here, Randall humorously explains the reason as people not wanting to upset the aforementioned snakes by dismissing their district for this pedantic reason.
Fallout New Vegas (Nevada)
Fallout New Vegas is a video game set in post-apocalyptic Nevada.
Fyoridor (Florida)
Possibly derived from the Russian name Fyodor, as in Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
George (Georgia)
Georgia was named for George II of Great Britain.
Hexxus (Texas)
The antagonist of Ferngully. FernGully is said to be the model for the later film Avatar. This is the second time Hexxus was mentioned in xkcd, the first occurrence being in 1750: Life Goals. May allude to the Texas oil industry and the state's general reputation for a lack of environmental protection.
Idolatry (Idaho)
Idolatry is the worship of a physical object as a god, forbidden in the Abrahamic religions.
Iota (Iowa)
Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. In English, the word iota may also mean "an inconsiderable amount".
Kawaii (Hawaii)
A Japanese term for cute, commonly romanized similar to Hawaii. Not to be confused with Kauai, a Hawaiian island.
Kennedy (Kentucky)
Kennedy Fried Chicken is New York City–based fast food brand that shares its initials with KFC, which was formerly (and still conventionally) Kentucky Fried Chicken. "Kennedy" is also the name of a former US president (John) and two former US senators (Robert and Ted).
Louisa (Louisiana)
Louisa, feminine of Louis, is an Old German name meaning "famous warrior". Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV when it was founded as a French colony.
Masseuses (Massachusetts)
Women who give massages professionally. A contentious term in the therapeutic massage industry due to its appropriation by prostitutes. Randall might be making fun about how difficult he thinks it is to spell Massachusetts.
Maybelline (Maryland)
Maybelline is a make-up brand.
Minestrone (Minnesota)
Minestrone is a thick vegetable soup, originating in Italy.
Mishy (Michigan)
According to the Urban Dictionary, "mishy" means "mushy and horny at the same time". Or it could just be a nickname, the way a lot of people's names, often children, get shortened with a trailing y (Bobby, Becky, Johnny, Suzy, Davey, Jimmy, etc.).
Misstate (Mississippi)
The word "misstate" means to state improperly. "Mis-" is also a prefix meaning "wrong," "incorrect," or simply negating. "Misstate" could be a non-state. Miss State is a university in Mississippi. This may also be a joke on the fact that Mississippi is one of the most commonly misspelled state names.
More Dakota (North Dakota)
Might be a reference to "More Dakka", a catchphrase by Orks from the Warhammer 40000 universe which is also a page on TVTropes referring to the large-scale use of ammunition. May also allude to the idea that North Dakota is less visible in popular culture than its Southern neighbor, owing to the fact that the latter contains Mount Rushmore but the former does not have any major landmarks.
mount -a (Montana)
A command to mount all disk volumes in fstab (except for ones with the noauto flag).
Mossouri (Missouri)
The single different letter represents probably a typo (O is adjacent to I in a keyboard). This typo has about 22,000 results on Google. Alternatively, this could be an attempt to "correct" the spelling of the state name to match its non-intuitive postal abbreviation, MO, which is sometimes used as a pronounceable acronym. Or it could be a reference to Katie Mossouris.
Namaste (New Mexico)
Namaste is a Hindu greeting.
Nebrunswick (Nebraska)
New Brunswick, a Canadian province. New Brunswick is abbreviated "NB" in the Canadian postal system, and "NB" was also as the postal abbreviation for Nebraska until 1969. It was then changed to "NE" specifically to avoid the confusion between the two. Nevertheless, people sometimes still use "NB" to refer to Nebraska.
New Hamper (New Hampshire)
A hamper is a large basket, often with lid, used for laundry. Also another name for a picnic basket.
Newark (New York)
The city of Newark is a suburb of New York City, and many people who live in Newark commute the 14 miles to work in New York City, however it is actually located in the state of New Jersey rather than New York. Other references: Newark Liberty International Airport is a major flight hub serving the New York metropolitan area, the village of Newark, New York (near Lake Ontario), and Newark element14 (or simply "Newark"), the official distributor of Raspberry Pi. Possible reference to William Gibson's works. A mispronunciation of New York.
Nude Juggalos (New Jersey)
Juggalo is a name given to fans of the group Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records hip hop group. Also shares the same initials as New Jersey.
Oh Hi (Ohio)
Oh (expression of surprise), Hi (greeting). A common utterance upon meeting an acquaintance unexpectedly.
Okay (Oklahoma)
OK is the state's abbreviation. Okay is a spelling of another abbreviation O.K., which means "yes" or "good", and has quite a few possible origins.
Organs (Oregon)
Could refer to either body parts that perform vital functions, or large musical instruments having rows of tuned pipes. Also a possible reference to Organ Trail, a retro survival video game that parodies The Oregon Trail.
Pencilmania (Pennsylvania)
Pencil Mania is a 1932 Tom and Jerry cartoon in which they pull out a pencil and proceed to draw figures in the air. Probably joking about how the first part of Pennsylvania sounds like the word "pencil".
Roald Dahl (Rhode Island)
A British writer, famous for child novels such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This name does not actually rhyme well with Rhode Island. Dahl used the Norwegian pronunciation of his name (roo-ahl dahl, rather than ro-ahld dahl), as he had Norwegian parents. Because of how the pronunciation of the name has not been wildly known by readers, Randall may not have been aware of this.
Sk8rbois (Illinois)
"Skater Boys" or just "Skater Boy" if the '-ois' is pronounced the same as it is in "Illinois". Sk8er Boi is a song by Avril Lavigne.
South Caroline (South Carolina)
A further reference to song 'Sweet Caroline' by Neil Diamond, similar to 'Dakota' and 'More Dakota.' Plays on similarity between the names 'Caroline' and 'Carolina'.
Spanish Maine (Maine)
The Spanish Main was the mainland Spanish colonial possessions around the Gulf of Mexico. Also refers to the surrounding sea, as in the opening of the (children's?) song, "Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main, ...". May also refer to the USS Maine (ACR-1), which, upon sinking, started the Spanish-American war.
Sweet Caroline (North Carolina)
A song by Neil Diamond.
That Other One (Indiana)
'That Other One' is something someone might say if they were trying to name all the states from memory, and knew where a state was but not what it was called. Appropriate for Indiana, due to being a state with relatively few distinguishing features.
Thennessy (Tennessee)
Hennessy is a brand of cognac.
Uhaul (Utah)
U-Haul is a company that rents moving vans which are frequently decorated with scenes from places that most people have never visited.
Verizona (Arizona)
Verizon, a telecommunications company, has the shared text "Rizon" with Arizona (Verizon, Arizona).
Vermouth (Vermont)
Vermouth is an Italian alcoholic beverage.
Virjayjay (Virginia)
Virginia is similar to vagina. Vajayjay is slang for vagina.
Wainscot (Wisconsin)
Wainscot is a type of wood panelling covering only the lower half of a wall.
Wilwheaton (Washington)
Wil Wheaton is an actor and writer, famous for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek.
Wysiwyg (Wyoming)
Acronym for "what you see is what you get". A reference to Types of Editors.
Wyvern (West Virginia)
A Wyvern is a mythical creature.


Transcript[edit]

[A political map of the United States is shown. The title reads:]
Geography challenge:
Name all 50 states
[The state names in red text color are:]
Alabama => Bandana
Alaska => Alberta
Arizona => Verizona
Arkansas => Arkanoids
California => Cafeteria
Colorado => Colocated
Connecticut => Connect Four
Delaware => Delorean
District of Columbia => District of Colubrids
Florida => Fyoridor
Georgia => George
Hawaii => Kawaii
Idaho => Idolatry
Illinois => SK8RBOIS
Indiana => That Other One
Iowa => Iota
Kansas => Candice
Kentucky => Kennedy
Louisiana => Loisa
Maine => Spanish Maine
Maryland => Maybelline
Massachusetts => Masseuses
Michigan => Mishy
Minnesota => Minestrone
Mississippi => Misstate
Missouri => Mossouri
Montana => mount -a
Nebraska => Nebrunswick
Nevada => Fallout New Vegas
New Hampshire => New Hamper
New Jersey => Nude Juggalos
New Mexico => Namaste
New York => Newark
North Carolina => Sweet Caroline
South Carolina => South Caroline
Ohio => Oh Hi
Oklahoma => Okay
Oregon => Organs
Pennsylvania => Pencilmania
Rhode Island => Roald Dahl
South Dakota => Dakota
North Dakota => More Dakota
Tennessee => Thennessy
Texas => Hexxus
Utah => Uhaul
Vermont => Vermouth
Virginia => Virjayjay
Washington => Willwheaton
West Virginia => Wyvern
Wisconsin => Wainscot
Wyoming => WYSIWYG


comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!

Discussion

I'm wondering whether this could be a joke about autocorrect/suggested completion as found in smartphone texting apps. Dromaeosaur (talk) 08:06, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

But would autocorrect replace Texas with Hexxus?--Blaisorblade (talk) 09:02, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia Will Wheaton is not from Washington 162.158.133.150 08:56, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I think the starting point is the ambiguity of the standard "Name all 50 states" challenge. I'm no native speaker but "Name" means both "invent a new name" and "give the correct name for", and Randall is misunderstanding this on purpose. Maybe that's obvious to some, but it seems the sort of thing worth explaining here?--Blaisorblade (talk) 09:02, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Clever! That's certainly true, it could be a pun on the word "name". Although Randall has done similar things in the past (putting objects in states, reordering states, drawing physically cumbersome bicycles) that suggest he likes playing with the idea that people who sort of know how things work but ultimately end up mixing things up and creating something that's not all that accurate (but nonetheless very interesting and creative). 172.68.79.81 18:31, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

"Colocated" is technically misspelled (it's either "co-located" or "collocated"), though that could be for the sake of matching it to "Colorado." However, the word is used in many situations other than "co-location center" (e.g. workers being collocated in the same office), so unless Colorado is particularly notable for its co-location centers, I don't think it makes sense to claim that that's what it's specifically referring to. –PhantomLimbic (talk) 09:36, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Hmm, it looks like "colocated" is a spelling used specifically within the industry, so perhaps the claim is warranted after all. –PhantomLimbic (talk) 09:50, 2 December 2016 (UTC)
Collocate is not a synonym for co-locate; collocate (pronounced like "kallocate") has the sense of juxtaposing things with each other, especially placing them side by side. This is subtly different from co-locate (housing them in the same location). "Colocate" is an industry shortening of "co-locate", not a misspelling of "collocate". 108.162.215.47 01:01, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

Isn't it a challenge to correctly name all the states with clues given as to the proper name?162.158.91.95 10:27, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I think the challenge is supposed to be a blank map that someone has filled out in red pen. The joke is that whoever filled it out does pretty much know all of the states but isn't really clear on their actual names.108.162.238.50 10:34, 2 December 2016 (UTC) Right, I get you. Something a bored Geography teacher may or may not find amusing when it comes to giving out detentions for the week :)162.158.91.95 10:40, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Is Georgia / George a reference to the kings of georgia (of which 9 were named george)? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Georgian_monarchs) 141.101.98.253 10:49, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I would have thought of the king of England when the colonies decided to declare independence -- or, for that matter, his grandfather King George II, after whom the state was named -- before thinking of kings from the other side of the Northern Hemisphere. But who knows. George is a common enough name that without word from Randall, it could equally be said he was making a reference to George Lucas, or to the name the Abominable Snowman wanted to give his "own little bunny rabbit." Nyperold (talk) 18:00, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

About "OH HI", I've understood it as a reference to the cult movie "The Room" (2003) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368226), where the main character Johnny greets the other ones with a "Oh hi!". But that's maybe only my view. 108.162.226.112 12:12, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I think it's within plausibility for OH HI to be a reference to the logic game 0h h1 [1]. Toss that possibility around? --108.162.212.96 23:30, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

As a Hoosier, I think that the name given to Indiana is on point. 108.162.238.45 14:06, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Shouldn't the table be alphabetical and the transcript be in geographical order (rather than the other way around as it is now)?108.162.219.83 15:12, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I'm fairly confident that "Mossouri" is not a typo, but rather a reference to Katie Mossouris, the Microsoft security researcher who created the bug bounty program. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katie_Moussouris. 108.162.245.54 18:06, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Dear, it's old to complain of xkcd's various quality drops, but I think this is my turn. A good number of recent comics have just been variously exaggerated text lists of stuff. Randall might just as well switch to a written format; pictorial context is becoming less and less necessary for his comics by the week. ~~~~ 162.158.203.149 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Never read Cerebus the Aardvark, did you? --172.68.78.133 14:04, 3 December 2016 (UTC)


I'm thinking that at least in part, it's a commentary on what the average American middle-schooler knows about their country's geography. 173.245.52.98 10:56, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure there is no 'ee' sound in Michigan, also of note the Carolina's are named for one the British King Charles's although I'm not sure which, and Wysiwyg has been used in xkcd before... Somewhere108.162.237.88 21:14, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Agreed re Michigan and removed. Miamiclay (talk) 23:11, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Newark? He named New York after Newark, New Jersey? Yea, I got your Newark right here, buddy! --172.68.78.133 14:04, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

For me, Randall's comic is a gentle-but-hilarious depiction of the general imprecision of human cognition --- pretty much every story that we tell, and every fact we remember, arrives in our awareness in the foggy forms that this comic makes fun of. John Sidles (talk) 02:12, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

"Spanish Maine" is ironic given the sinking of the naval ship of the same name and the inspired rally, "Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!" 172.68.79.81 18:31, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Should there be a link to the Exoplanets comic? Also related to the chaos that arises when people are allowed to 'name' things (https://xkcd.com/1253/) - 162.158.58.88 23:08, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

The explanation for "More Dakota" says that "More Dakka" (which I believe to be referenced here) is possibly too obscure to be a shoutout here, as XKCD does not usually mention Warhammer 40,000. However, there is a TV Trope named "More Dakka", and it is well-established that Randall is an avid reader of TV Tropes. (This is also the only way I know about "More Dakka".) Mathmannix (talk) 14:04, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

I've taken the liberty to make a description list out of the table (and sort it alphabetically), so it is easier to read on small screens. The original order is still in the wikitext as a comment, in case this is preferred by the original authors. (also, if this is 'too much', feel free to revert) //gir.st/ (talk) 11:10, 28 August 2018 (UTC)