The name Montana was suggested by Rep. James Ashley of Ohio in the 1864 act that separated the Montana Territory from the Idaho Territory. The name means mountain or mountainous, but the proximate language of origin is not certain. Ashley could have created then name from the Latin montana, meaning mountainous region. Or he could have taken it from the Spanish montaña, meaning mountain.1
1Oxford English Dictionary, Montana, n.2, 3rd Edition, Dec 2007, Oxford University Press, accessed 24 Dec 2008 <http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/00315189>;
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, edited by Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 1465;
Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names, edited by Kelsie B. Harder (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 352.
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton