Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States and the seventh-least populous state, is not an island at all. So, why is it called Rhode Island? Good question.

We do know that Rhode Island has several nicknames and we know the origin of each of them.

According to RI.gov, The Ocean State is the official nickname and "was formulated to attract tourism to Rhode Island and appears on non-commercial license plates." The site says, "Ocean State began appearing on Rhode Island license plates in 1972, replacing 'Discover.'"

Little Rhody is a "traditional nickname for Rhode Island, obviously in reference to the state's small size." The state's third nickname is "The Smallest State," according to RI.gov.

Rhode Island was the 13th state admitted to the Union on May 29, 1790. Before becoming a state, Rhode Island was called Providence Plantations and the Colony of Rhode Island.

There are several theories about how this non-island got the name Rhode Island.

Who Came Up With The Name Rhode Island And Why?
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National Geographic Kids says, "Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazanno explored the area in 1524." According to the site, "Roger Williams - a man who'd been banished from the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony because of his religious beliefs - founded the Rhode Island colony" in 1636.

National Geographic suggests Varrizanno may have "compared the land he found to the Greek island of Rhodes," inspiring Williams to name the colony Rhode Island.

RI.gov has a different theory, "The state was named by Dutch explorer Adrian Block." The site says Block "named it 'Roodt Eylandt,' meaning 'Red Island' in reference to the red clay that lined the shore."

Are there any other theories? I'm not sure I'm buying either of these.

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