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The Most Unusual City Names in the United States

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What's in a name?

The United States of America is home to 50 states and over 19,000 cities, towns and communities. Apart from the common names like Washington, Springfield, Madison, and Georgetown, you can find some unusual names in between. Some of them are quite shocking, while others are hilarious.

It's a rather awkward feeling when someone asks you about the place where you live, and then you reply them with the weird-sounding name of your city. The reaction: you'll either be shot back with a blank stare or get a howling ridicule.

There are hundreds of weird city names in the US, but here we list just a few of them. Keep in mind that all of the names listed below are actual names, although not all of them are cities (others are towns and communities). You just can't believe they're real!

1) Hell, Michigan
Hell is an unincorporated community in Putnam Township, Livingston County, in the state of Michigan. There are two theories as to where Hell got its name. 

The first reportedly occurred during the 1830s where one of the German travelers exclaimed at how sunny the day was: “So schön hell!” (which means “So beautifully bright!”). The people heard the phrase, and the word “hell” got stuck.

The second comes from one of Michigan's founders, businessman George Reeves. This also happened during the 1830s, during the time when Michigan was granted statehood. When Reeves was asked what he thought that the town should be called, he said, “I don't care. You can name it Hell for all I care.” And the people took it literally! The name became official in October 1841. So yes, “Hell” is literally a place on earth. Sounds like it's a perfect place to get married! (“Where did you get hitched?” “Man, it was in Hell!”)

2) Popejoy, Iowa
Popejoy is a sparsely-populated city in Iowa. The name may conjure some happy drug conceived by the Vatican. But actually, the city was named after a former resident and landowner named John Popejoy.

3) China, Texas
“Let's go to China!” We mean China... in Texas! This city in Jefferson County, Texas was originally known as “China Grove” due to the abundance of chinaberry trees there.

4) Accident, Maryland
What an inauspicious-sounding name for a place! But don't worry... this little town in Garrett County, Maryland is generally a safe location to live. It is the only place in the United States with such a name. And what do you call a person who lives in Accident? It's "Accidental"!

5) Embarrass, Minnesota
Would you feel odd when someone asks where you live? If you say “Embarrass,” that would likely be quite embarrassing, won't it?

But actually, Embarrass owes its name to the French fur traders who visited the area. Feeling confused and lost while trying to navigate the area's shallow, narrow river, they named the river as “Embarras” which roughly means “to hinder with obstacles and difficulties.” Maybe these French guys felt kind of embarrassed too.

6) Uncertain, Texas
Uncertain's origin is as a bit strange as the name itself. When the original residents were asked to fill out an application for the area's township, they were undecided about the name. So they wrote down “Uncertain” on the blank field of the application form. When the township was finally granted, it officially became “Uncertain.” And the city's name is still “Uncertain” even now.

7) Coward, South Carolina
Despite the name, not everyone who lives in Coward, South Carolina is chicken-hearted. But the town's residents are still hesitant to reveal the reason behind the name, so it still remains a mystery.

8) Imalone, Wisconsin
The name of this unincorporated community in Rusk County, Wisconsin may attract thousands of loners and introverted souls out there! 

The origin of “Imalone” is doubtful, but there's a story about it. One day, the community's founder named Snowball Anderson left his own gas station to the care of a guy named Bill Granger. When a salesman stopped by the gas station, he asked Granger for the name of the place so that he could put it on the invoice. Granger replied, “I'm alone,” meaning he could not find anyone to ask what the name was. The salesman wrote “Imalone” down on the invoice, and the name stuck.

9) Kickapoo (various states)
Reading the name “Kickapoo” alone immediately elicits a nasty chuckle. “Kick-a-poo,” right? But the name actually derives from the Algonquian word Kiikaapoa or Kiikaapoi which refers to a group of Algonquian-speaking Native American and indigenous Mexican tribes. “Kickapoo” is also the term for their language.

There are many states that have places named “Kickapoo”: Indiana, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Illinois, to name just a few.

10) Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
This scary-sounding name could be a moniker of the next death metal band or a title of the newest teen horror flick. Plus, the name of the county where this town is situated just adds more to the spooky factor: “Dare.” 


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