The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is named after the Indian tribe. The name in the Massachusett language is from massa (great) + wadchu (hill). The name is a reference to what is now known as the Great Blue Hill in Milton, about ten miles south of Boston. At all of 635 feet (194 m), the hill isn’t that great in absolute terms, but it’s one of the largest in the area.1
1Oxford English Dictionary, Massachusett, n. and adj., 3rd Edition, Dec 2000, Oxford University Press, accessed 24 Dec 2008 <http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/00302909>;
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, edited by Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 1388;
Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names: United States and Canada, edited by Kelsie B. Harder (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 325.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton