Origin of "Tennessee"

Tennessee State Name Origin

TNmapTennessee.jpg

Map of Tennessee USA

Map of Tennessee; United States of America.  Photo by Malia/Flickr (Noncommercial Use Permitted with Attribution/No Derivative Works).

What does "Tennessee" mean?

The name "Tennessee" evolved from Creek and Cherokee words (many state names originate from native American languages).

Exact details have been lost over time, but Spanish explorer Captain Juan Pardo was the first to record the name in 1567; at some point he and his soldiers encountered a native American village called "Tanasqui" in Cherokee country. 

Historical accounts (maps, documents, letters) refer to "the land of the Tannassy" with many spellings, such as: Tennassee, Tunasse, Tanase, Tunesee, Tonice, Tinnace, Tanasee, Tannassie, Tannessee, Tannasie, Tenessee, Tenesay, Tenasi, Tansai, Tunissee, Tanase, Tanasqui Tenesee, Tanisee, Tanei, Tunese, Tinassee Tunnissee, Tennisee, Tennesy, Tennecy, Tunassee, Tanasee.

The first known record using the modern spelling of "Tennessee" is an official correspondence from the Governor of South Carolina in the 1750's. Tennessee became the 16th state on June 1, 1796.

Tennessee

Images

The state of Tennessee, USA (public domain image).

Tennessee, USA