The origin of the word "Texas" reflects the state's history of interaction between Native Americans and Spanish explorers, as well as the colonists and settlers who would later call the state home.
Teshas to Texas
The language of the Native American Caddo tribe of southeastern Texas inspired the state name we know today. During the 1540s, when Spanish explorers encountered the tribe, the Caddo attempted to communicate to the newcomers that they would be their friends, or "teyshas." The confused explorers believed the Caddo were actually stating their tribal name, and proceeded to identify them as the "Tejas" or "Teyas." In time, the word "Tejas" was used to describe the land north of the Rio Grande and east of New Mexico. However, English-speaking settlers around the territory often mispronounced the Spanish "Tejas" as "Teksas." When the area eventually became part of the United States, the pronunciation stuck in the form of the word "Texas."
- wellesenterprises/iStock/Getty Images