The region of New England in the United States has numerous place names derived from the indigenous peoples of the area. New England is in the Northeastern United States, and comprises six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Listed are well-known names of towns, significant bodies of water, and mountains. This list can virtually never be sufficiently completed as there are hundreds of thousands of place names in New England.

Formation and transmission of names

All the names in this section come to us only through persons whose first language was English and only rarely knew any other. From the few sources who were bilingual, we are fortunate to have some concept of how some of the names were segmented in the languages from which they came. Those names often tend to predominate in lists such as these, just because they are more easily understood.

Most names were received by English settlers who had little idea what they meant. Being naturally curious, they asked the natives what the names meant or conjectured among themselves or both. The natives were faced with having to explain the name in a language they knew but rudimentarily. They interpreted freely, often giving the use or features of interest about the place rather than trying to explain the elements of their language to the English. They never had a linguist's understanding of the structure of their language. Their descendants, speaking primarily English, no longer knew how to produce meaningful utterances in the language of their native forefathers.

Consequently, the names can be divided into roughly two categories: those for which the original morphology is known to some degree and those for which it is not. The meanings of the latter category are traditional only, but the tradition may not necessarily descend from a native speaker. It may have been a settler's conjecture, passed on through the social mechanism of the sacred words of the forefathers or simply because no other interpretation was available.

The mechanism can be seen most clearly in names for which both categories of meaning exist. You might read that a name is supposed to mean "the place of portage" or "the pines" when in fact those meanings are not even implied by the morphology of the name. It is entirely possible, however, that those places were used for those purposes. On the other hand, some settler may have guessed that they were used for those purposes. In cases where there is no morphology there is little point in argument over the "correct meaning" of the name, an activity enjoyed by New Englanders since settlement times, and which also you will undoubtedly see much of in Wikipedia.

New England in the early 17th century when English colonists first landed was tenanted by variously named tribes for the most part speaking languages of the Algonquian family. Our aboriginals spoke an eastern branch of the group. It often happened that whole regions were named after the tribe inhabiting it, such as Massachusetts, nor does this appear to have been an English naming convention only. In this the aboriginals were non-different from the tribes of classical Europe, whose names still dot the map of Europe.

Like the tribal names of Europe, the native names descended from an antiquity long lost. The natives themselves may not have known what they meant. For these names we have mainly tradition, but even that should be regarded as more speculative than not.

Places named after tribes

Place names on this list represent a number of tribes speaking aboriginal languages within the Algonquian family, for the most part, if in warped or anglicized form:


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "List of place names of Native American origin in New England" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (March 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Common dialects of the Algonquian languages: Hammonasset, Mahican, Montauk, Niantic, Paugussett, Pequot-Mohegan, Podunk, Poquonock, Quinnipiac, Tunxi, Wangunk


Common languages:


Common languages:

New Hampshire

Common Languages: Abnaki, Nipmuc, Pennacook

Rhode Island

Common languages:


Common languages: Abnaki, Mahican

See also


  1. ^ "Nissitissit River Land Trust". Retrieved 2021-11-27.
  2. ^ Nashua River Wild & Scenic Study Committee (November 29, 2017). "DRAFT STEWARDSHIP PLAN" (PDF).