Here’s a fun brain puzzle: Can you name the one letter in the alphabet that doesn’t appear in any of the names of the 50 United States? I’ll give you a minute.
Got an idea? If you’re like me, you guessed J. And you’d be close — the letter J actually appears in only one state name: New Jersey.
Another Simplemost staffer guessed X out of the gate.
But that’s not right because:
Welcome to Texas sign at the state border
And New Mexico.
Another guessed Z. Can you think of a state that includes the letter Z?
Ah, there it is. So that’s not right.
So If It’s Not J, X Or Z—What Is It?
Trying to find the answer to this alphabetic fun fact made me think of the “Fifty Nifty United States” song that I memorized in elementary school in the ’90s.
Do you remember it? You know, it’s that song that teaches kids the names of the states in alphabetic order, the one that goes “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas….”
Here’s a little video to refresh your memory:
Does that help you get closer to the answer?
Ready For The Answer?
OK, here it is:
The letter that doesn’t appear in any state names is Q! Good old Q.
I have to say I’m not surprised. Q is a relatively rare letter of the alphabet, anyway, usually combined with U in most words. And it is, after all, one of the most valuable Scrabble letters due to that rarity. In the popular word-making board game, Q is worth a whopping 10 points.
But Q isn’t the only rare letter in our state names here in the U.S. The letter Z appears in the name of only state (Arizona) and X in just two (Texas and New Mexico). P is also fairly rare among the 50, as it appears in only three state names — Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and New Hampshire.
Eager to cram in some more U.S. trivia knowledge? Check out this map that shows the literal meaning of every state name.
H/t Reader’s Digest