What does "Rhode Island" mean?
The first mention of Rhode Island in writing ("isola di Rhode") was made by explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 (he refers to an island near the mouth of Narragansett Bay which he compares to the Island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean). Some attribute the name to Dutch explorer Adriaen Block ("Roode Eylandt"), again because its red clay is similar to the Greek island of Rhodes.
The first official reference to the island by the English is in these words "Aquethneck shall be henceforth called the Ile of Rods or Rhod-Island." The earliest recorded English colonist text (by Roger Williams) refers to it as "Ilande of the Rodes" (without the "h").
The name "Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" was adopted in the Royal Charter granted by King Charles II of England in 1633 (note: the words "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" appear on Rhode Island's state seal). Rhode Island became the 13th state on May 29, 1790.