Share on Facebook

Can You Guess the U.S. State from Its Abbreviation?

You probably know the abbreviation for the state you live in—but what about the other 49? Of course, some state abbreviations are pretty obvious: "NJ" is New Jersey; "HI" is Hawaii. But some are far less intuitive. Can you figure out which states these 11 abbreviations belong to?

alabamaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#1. Is “AL” the abbreviation for…

A. Alaska

or

B. Alabama?

alabamaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

B. Alabama

The first two states in the alphabet start with “AL,” but it’s the very first one that gets that abbreviation. See how well you know the 50 states by seeing if you can correctly identify these state capitals.

alaskaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#2. Is “AK” the abbreviation for…

A. Alaska

or

B. Arkansas?

alaskaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

A. Alaska

Alabama might be the first U.S. state name alphabetically, but Alaska’s abbreviation, “AK,” puts it first in the list of abbreviations.

Speaking of—satisfy your road trip cravings with the best state park in every state.

arkansasKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#3. Is “AR” the abbreviation for…

A. Arkansas

or

B. Arizona?

arkansasKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

A. Arkansas

Arizona’s abbreviation is “AZ,” and it’s actually the only state name in the United States that has the letter Z in it! Can you guess which letter doesn’t appear in any U.S. state name at all?

coloradoKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#4. Is “CO” the abbreviation for…

A. Connecticut

or

B. Colorado?

coloradoKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

B. Colorado

Connecticut and Colorado both start with “CO,” but their abbreviations use their first and last letter, so Colorado’s is still “CO.” Connecticut’s abbreviation is “CT.”

If you’re feeling smart, test yourself with U.S. trivia your history teacher never taught you.

iowaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#5. Is “IA” the abbreviation for…

A. Indiana

or

B. Iowa?

iowaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

B. Iowa

Iowa, the only U.S. state that starts with two consecutive vowels, actually doesn’t use those two vowels as its abbreviation! Instead, it uses “IA,” its first and last letter. There are four U.S. states that begin with I, but there’s actually no “IO.” For an even tricker state trivia quiz, see if you can identify the U.S. state from just its flag!

michiganKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#6. Is “MI” the abbreviation for…

A. Michigan

or

B. Mississippi?

michiganKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

A. Michigan

There are more states that begin with M than any other letter—a full eight!—so their abbreviations can be tricky to keep straight. Luckily, Michigan’s abbreviation, just its first two letters, is pretty straightforward…even though there are two other states that begin with “MI.”

We bet we can stump you with these 50 facts about America that most Americans don’t know.

mississippiKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#7. Is “MS” the abbreviation for…

A. Mississippi

or

B. Missouri?

mississippiKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

A. Mississippi

Since “Mississippi” has the letter S in it four times, it makes sense that “MS” would be its abbreviation. (Although Massachusetts does too!) You probably know Mississippi from its unique, hard-but-fun-to-spell name, but we bet you didn’t know the strangest fact about every U.S. state.

missouriKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#8. Is “MO” the abbreviation for…

A. Montana

B. Minnesota

or

C. Missouri?

missouriKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

B. Missouri

With “MI” and “MS” already taken, that makes things a little tricky for Missouri, which uses its fifth letter for the second letter in its abbreviation.

If you’re taken with the states, why not test your knowledge on the presidents? You might be surprised at what you never knew…

minnesotaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#9. Is “MN” the abbreviation for…

A. Montana

or

B. Minnesota?

minnesotaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

B. Minnesota

The North Star State uses “MN” as its abbreviation, leaving “MT” for Montana (which, by the way, is nicknamed the Treasure State). See if you can guess 20 U.S. states by their nicknames.

nebraskaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#10. Is “NE” the abbreviation for…

A. Nebraska

or

B. Nevada?

nebraskaKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

A. Nebraska

Both U.S. states that begin with N also have E as their second letter! Nevada uses its second consonant instead: “NV.”

Why not jump to the other side of the country and try to wrap your head around these wacky facts about Washington, D.C.

massachusettsKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM

#11. Is “MA” the abbreviation for…

A. Massachusetts

B. Maine

or

C. Maryland?

massachusettsKELSEY MCARDLE/RD.COM, 5W INFOGRAPHICS FOR READER’S DIGEST

A. Massachusetts

While Massachusetts gets its first two letters as its abbreviation, Maine (“ME”) and Maryland (“MD”) use their first and last.

Now that you know the most confusing U.S. state abbreviations, see how you fare with these other 24 U.S. state facts everyone gets wrong.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.