This is a map of the U.S., with the literal meanings of its state names and cities.

Alaska becomes "Land Towards Which The Sea Flows."

Idaho is a beautiful "Light on the Mountains."

The West is mostly a list of geographical descriptions--though in the Southwest we get a peak at New Mexico’s "New Navel of the Moon"--so naturally Mexico means the same thing, minus the "new" on it.

Though most of Mexico’s land wasn’t named so lovingly. It’s a dry, prickly place.

Texas, Land of Friends--it sounds so inviting, doesn’t it? Would make a great state slogan.

What’s amazing is that many of the literal names have gone untouched--like West Palm Beach.

It’s hard to pick a favorite from this lot, but I’m leaning toward Illinois, the Land of Those Who Speak Normally.

Who would have thought a state named New Yew-Tree Estate would turn into such a big deal?

Interestingly enough, North and South Dakota carry the "land of friends" monicker like Texas. Anyone know why? It’s one of many historical mysteries that make me realize, while we all use these words every day, very few of us know what they mean.

Infographic: The Literal Meaning Of Every State Name In The U.S.

Washington translates to "Marsh Farm Land, Missouri to "Land of the People with Dugout Canoes." What does your state or city name mean? You may not want to know.

The New Navel of the Moon. It’s so poetic, isn’t it? (And sure, maybe a bit anatomically confusing.) That’s the real meaning behind the state name New Mexico, and it’s one of many etymological gems uncovered by cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust while they were creating this U.S. map depicting the original, literal meanings behind the states and cities we know today.

"The inspiration was my interest in etymology and my profession as a cartographer," Hormes tells Co.Design. "I started to exchange real names for rue names and the world became a strange romantic continent. It’s obvious to me that after five years of changing names on maps, I must do it. No map is safe."

Of course, most state names aren’t nearly as gorgeous as New Mexico’s moon navel. For every Idaho "Light on the Mountains," there is a Missouri "Land of the People with Dugout Canoes." Many states, of course, simply describe geography, which works out well for Mississippi "Land of the Great River" but a bit less elegantly for Washington "Marsh Farm Land."

I ask Hormes if there was a single discovery that was most shocking.

"I found some funny stuff like 'Astrakhan’ in the Wolga delta which means ‘Tax haven for pilgrims,’" he explains. "Once we made a funny map of peculiar place names in German. Place names like ‘Fucking’ or ‘Cats Brain’ changed even my selective perception."

At the U.S. city level, it’s fascinating to see just how many names have gone unchanged. Green Bay. Cedar Rapids. Oakland. Little Rock. They’re all modern names that, when you take a second look, have an old-world appeal. I just wish I could say the same for my hometown of Chicago, which didn’t age so gracefully. It translates to "stink onions."

If you’d like to buy an atlas or map of literal state names, prices start at about $20. And for more infographics on Co.Design, go here.

Buy them here.

[Hat tip: Slate]

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