The Adventures of Esplandian
California is one of only two 10 letter states in the country. The origin of the name "California" is heavily disputed, perhaps more so than any other state. However, in recent years there has been a general consensus among historians that the name comes from a 16th century Spanish novel, The Adventures of Esplandian.
It is important to note that "California" is not actually a word in Spanish. The author of the novel simply made this word up. Most historians believe that the author created the term from the Arabic word Khalifa, which means "ruler." If this is true, this means that "California" means something like "land of the ruler."
In the novel, the term "California" is used to describe a mystical island east of the Indies (a general term that was used to describe various islands in the Indian Ocean). The book was popular among Spanish explorers at around the time that they discovered modern-day California.
Spanish Explorers Name Baja California
When the Spanish explorers first discovered what is now known as Baja California (in Mexico), they thought the peninsula was actually an island. Due to the limited geographical knowledge at the time, they also thought that this "island" was directly to the east of the Indies. This reminded the Spanish explorers of the popular novel, and the mystical land of California from the novel. They named this new land after the mystical land from the book.
Washington state is the only other state in America to have a 10 letter name. As you no doubt already know, Washington is named after the first president of the United States of America, George Washington. It received this name in 1853, when Congress created the Washington Territory.
When the Washington Territory was in the process of becoming a state in 1889, there were suggestions to rename the area due to confusion with Washington D.C. However, "Washington" did become the name of the state. To this day, people sometimes confuse Washington and Washington D.C. This is why many people refer to Washington as "Washington state."
While there is no longer a significant movement to change the name of the state, there is a movement to change the name of Washington D.C. as part of a proposed transition from a federal district to a state. One of the proposed names of such a state is the "State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth." As this would make things even more confusing, it seems unlikely to happen.