United States of Syllables

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A syllable is a unit of blended sounds considered to be the phonological building blocks of words.  

Listed here are the number of states by syllable.  

One thing to note: There is probably some regional debate about the syllable count of some states ending with “ia”.  California tends to be pronounced with two syllables: “n-ya”.  Virginia and Pennsylvania are typically pronounced with one syllable: “nyuh”.

How Many States Have Only One Syllable?

Maine is the only state in the United States that has only one syllable.

Photo of the coastline of Acadia National Park.
Maine is know for its beautiful coastline. A section of the coast in Acadia National Park. Photo: NPS/Kristi Rugg, public domain.

How Many States Have Two Syllables?

There are six states with two syllables in their name:

  1. Georgia
  2. Kansas
  3. New York
  4. Texas
  5. Utah
  6. Vermont
The "The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World" was dedicated as a National Monument in 1924.  The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, a federally owned island across from New York City.
The “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” was dedicated as a National Monument in 1924. The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, a federally owned island across from New York City.

How Many States Have Three Syllables?

The most common syllable count for names of states is three.  There are 25 states with names that have three syllables:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. Delaware
  4. Florida
  5. Hawaii
  6. Idaho
  7. Illinois
  8. Iowa
  9. Kentucky
  10. Maryland
  11. Michigan
  12. Missouri
  13. Montana
  14. Nebraska
  15. Nevada
  16. New Hampshire
  17. New Jersey
  18. Ohio
  19. Oregon
  20. Rhode Island
  21. Tennessee
  22. Virginia
  23. Washington
  24. Wisconsin
  25. Wyoming
Photo of Riverside Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone was the first National Park established in the United States on March 1, 1872. Riverside Geyser. Photo: Neal Herbert, NPS, public domain.

How Many States Have Four Syllables?

There are fourteen states with names that have four syllables:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Indiana
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Minnesota
  8. Mississippi
  9. New Mexico
  10. North Dakota
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Pennsylvania
  13. South Dakota
  14. West Virginia
The Grand Canyon is the result of tens of millions of years of geologic processes and erosion from the Colorado River. Photo: Carol Wippich, USGS. Public domain
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is the result of tens of millions of years of geologic processes and erosion from the Colorado River. Photo: Carol Wippich, USGS. Public domain

How Many States Have Five Syllables?

There are four states that have names with five syllables:

  1. California
  2. Louisiana
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
View along California's Central Coast near San Simeon looking north up Highway 1 along the California coast toward Big Sur. Photo: Shawn Harrison, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, USGS. Public domain.
View along California’s Central Coast near San Simeon looking north up Highway 1 along the California coast toward Big Sur. Photo: Shawn Harrison, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, USGS. Public domain.

Note that California is the only state ending in “ia” that pronounces it “n-ya” versus the “nyuh” ending of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Table of States and Syllable Count

Here is a complete list of states by syllable.  

StateSyllable Count
Alabama4
Alaska3
Arizona4
Arkansas3
California5
Colorado4
Connecticut4
Delaware3
Florida3
Georgia2
Hawaii3
Idaho3
Illinois3
Indiana4
Iowa3
Kansas2
Kentucky3
Louisiana5
Maine1
Maryland3
Massachusetts4
Michigan3
Minnesota4
Mississippi4
Missouri3
Montana3
Nebraska3
Nevada3
New Hampshire3
New Jersey3
New Mexico4
New York2
North Carolina5
North Dakota4
Ohio3
Oklahoma4
Oregon3
Pennsylvania4
Rhode Island3
South Carolina5
South Dakota4
Tennessee3
Texas2
Utah2
Vermont2
Virginia3
Washington3
West Virginia4
Wisconsin3
Wyoming3

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