Origin of the Name Appalachian Mountains

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Many people might wonder how the Appalachian Mountains got their name and why they are referred to as such. Well, most are not one hundred percent sure how the mountains got their name, but there is one major origin story that many people agree with. However, the most common idea is the belief that the name came from translations of the word used by Native American villages. We have included a short YouTube video version of this potential origin of the name that you can view below, but we also have an article to go more in-depth on how it is believed the Appalachian Mountains got their current name.

The origin of the name "Appalachian" for the mountain range in eastern North America can be traced back to the Algonquian Native American language. The word "Apalachee" was used by the indigenous people to describe the region near present-day Tallahassee, Florida.

Scholars believe that the word "Apalachee" gradually transformed into "Apalachie" or "Apalachen" as European explorers arrived in the area, mostly early Spanish explorers. However, in time, French explorers in particular used the term "monts Apalaches" to refer to the mountainous terrain they encountered during expeditions.

One of the earliest written records of the term "Appalachian" can be found in a letter written by Peter Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson's father) in 1747, where he used the spelling "Apalachen." This spelling variation eventually evolved into the modern spelling "Appalachian" commonly used today.


- Mooney, James. "Mythology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains". Journal of American Folklore, 1899, pp. 45-46.

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