The Getaway
Some of the Most Unusual Town Names in the USA

Have you ever been on a road trip and gone through a town whose name you can't believe exists? The USA has a lot of towns like this. They aren't always small towns of just 800 people, either. However, even when you see the place names, you probably don't wonder about where the name came from. For example, Phoenix derives from the Native American settlement that was once there; its new city rising from the ashes. But what about Coupon, Pennsylvania? Here are the most unusual town names in the USA... and their meanings!


01 Cut and Shoot, Texas

Longhorn Cattle

At first glance, the city name of Cut and Shoot understandably brings about images of violence. Although no violence actually occurred, the city's unusual name had an equally-as-unusual conception. In 1912, there was a confrontation over a new design for the then-town's only church steeple. The violence was reportedly thwarted when a little boy declared, "I'm going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute." Apparently, the name just kind of stuck.


02 Accident, Maryland

Surely, the last place anybody would want to settle down would be in a town by the name of Accident. However, Accident - a town in Garrett County - actually has a population of 314 people who did. There are many reports on the name of the town's origins, but because no one actually knows its real etymology, it's all a guessing game. One tale claims that when Lord Baltimore opened the State's western border for settlement, two men were sent to survey the land. After they had both finished their work, the men then discovered they had picked the same tract of land... by accident. Get it?

A female Maryland Blue Crab from the Chesapeake Bay walks along a pier after being caught by a fisherman in the late afternoon. John M. Chase / Getty Images

03 Embarrass, Minnesota

The township of Embarrass has French origins to its name. Derived from the French word, embarras, the town got its name from the French fur traders who were the very first Europeans to visit the area. In French, embarras roughly means an obstacle or hindrance in the way of something. According to legend, the French fur traders found the narrow river hard to navigate and thus, the river was named Embarras.

Saint Paul, Minnesota - Skyline at Dusk - City Lights Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photography / Getty Images

04 What Cheer, Iowa

One of the most bizarre names on the list, What Cheer was initially called Petersburg after its first settler, Peter Britton. Fortunately, as the town grew, its name was called into question. A store owner named Joseph Andrews suggested the old English greeting "What Cheer" and, while Britton tried to keep the name as his, a meeting of citizens quickly decided to vote in the way of Andrews. And thus, What Cheer was born.

Corn crop fill the foreground leading back to a typical Iowa farm at harvest time, Dubuque Iowa Ron and Patty Thomas / Getty Images

05 Intercourse, Pennsylvania

A Welcome to Intercourse sign located along the Old Philadelphia Pike in Lancaster County.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania gets a lot of laughs. It also gets a lot of visitors, often only there to take a photograph beside the sign that reads, "INTERCOURSE." The town was originally known as Cross Keys after a local tavern that was in the area in the 18th Century. Although there are several theories on the origins of the town's name, there is one that makes the most sense. Apparently, two famous roads once crossed through the center of the town, which led to the naming of both Cross Keys and Intercourse.


06 Hazardville, Connecticut

While its name might conjure up visions of a town coated in toxic waste, Hazardville was actually named after a man called Colonel Augustus G. Hazard. Hazard was a gunpowder manufacturer during the Civil War who established 100 powder mills across Enfield, an area of which Hazardville is now a part of.

Fun fact: More than 40% of the gunpowder used during the Civil War came from the mills in Hazardville.

USA weird city names DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

07 Gas, Kansas

Gas has no long and intricate story behind its naming. On the contrary, the "home of the largest gas can" was named after the abundance of natural gas in the area. Essentially, there was a lot of gas in Gas. With less than 1000 residents, the rural town sits just three miles from the much larger Iola. That said, while Iola provides more opportunities for Kansans, Gas sure has it pipped to the post when it comes to Google searches.

Windmill silhouette against warm sunset and cloudscape. gacooksey / Getty Images

08 Hell, Michigan

Hell, in Michigan, has one of the best etymology stories of all time. Very relatable, if you want to hashtag it. Although technically a theory, once Michigan had gained statehood, a man named George Reeves was asked what he thought of the town. Reeves operated the sawmill, distillery, tavern, and gristmill in the then-nameless town. When asked what he thought the town should be called, he allegedly replied, "You can name it Hell for all I care." And, well, they did.

father and son in silhouette conoeing at twilight sharply_done / Getty Images

09 Nothing, Arizona

Old Nothing Sign

Despite now being a ghost town, even when Nothing was populated, it only had four residents. According to locals, the town was "named by a bunch of drunks." Founded in 1977, its town sign is enough to give all of us hope in humanity. It read: "Thru-the-years-these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing."


10 Fertile, Iowa

While Fertile, Iowa isn't the only Fertile in the United States, it's 0.94 square miles of land is also the reason behind its name. Originally called Rhodes Mill after the founding settler, William Rhodes, who built his house there in 1856. The town was then established as Fertile in 1877. They named it Fertile due to the quality of the soil, and the town itself was fully incorporated at the turn of the 20th century.

Iowa soybean field next to a field of corn DS70 / Getty Images

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