What Is the Origin of the Name Texas?

by Ruth Nix
The state motto of "Friendship" was inspired by the same word from which "Texas" is derived.

The state motto of "Friendship" was inspired by the same word from which "Texas" is derived.

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."

About the Author

Ruth Nix began her career teaching a variety of writing classes at the University of Florida. She also worked as a columnist and editorial fellow for "Esquire" magazine. In 2012, Nix was featured in the annual "Best New Poets" anthology and received the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award for excellence in teaching from the University of Florida.

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