Are you ready for a blast from the past?
“Fifty nifty United States, from thirteen original colonies!” Remember this epic childhood sing-a-long, used to help kids learn all 50 states and their places on the map?
Well, if you’re singing along in your head, then we feel gratified. If you’ve got no idea what we’re talking about, then consider us embarrassed! (But seriously, go check out the song. You’ll be a United States mastermind in no time.)
There are so many states to remember, and so many of their names are very unusual. Are you coming around to the idea of a helpful song yet? Well, set aside remembering the states in alphabetical order for just a moment, because we’ve got a different challenge for you.
It may surprise you to learn that no, they’re not! One lonely letter of the alphabet has been left out. Take a few minutes to have a think, ask your friends, and guess what it is.
Maybe you guessed J? Many people do, and it’s a great first guess. In fact, J appears in only one state name. You got it: New Jersey.
Okay, so how about X? Again, a pretty good guess, but what about Texas? Not to mention New Mexico. Getting the hang of it yet?
Let’s tackle a couple more together. Surprisingly, no states except Alabama and Nebraska contain a B, and F is absent except for two brief appearances in California and Florida. The letter Z is surely a strong contender, but then we’ve got Arizona!
Give up? It’s not J, X, B, F, or Z. So who’s the culprit? Okay, we’ll tell you. You’ve thought hard and you’ve earned the answer.
The only letter that doesn’t appear in a single state name is … Q! Did you get it right? According to Reader’s Digest, every other letter of the alphabet shows up in a state name at least once. So there you have it.
Our quirky friend Q is pretty reclusive. According to Lexico, the letter E is “over 56 times more common than Q in forming individual English words.” So perhaps it’s no huge surprise that there was no space for the curly consonant among the names of the 50 U.S. states!
“Time to change Alaska to Alasqa,” joked one Reddit user, while another suggested adopting Canada’s Quebec to complete the set. What do you think about these inventive solutions to the missing Q conundrum?
It might be unusual, but the letter Q is actually pretty special. Both Q and Z are worth the most points in Scrabble, and Q ranks third in a list of least frequently used letters published by Cornell University.
Who knows why lonesome Q missed out, but Q’s loss is our gain! Why not pass this piece of trivia around the office, among your family, or pass it under the noses of your most inquisitive friends to see if anybody can guess the right answer?
And then go back and sing the “Fifty Nifty” song just one more time. You won’t regret it!