Mnemonics · Trivia

Trivia Mnemonics (US States and Capitals)

The Trivia Menu (here) gives an introduction to how I have acquired certain bits of information over the years and lists some favourite quiz questions.

This piece gives my mnemonics for remembering all 50 US States and the State Capitals. Over the years other people have asked me for it, right up to last week (my brother, visiting from Spain). Sample questions: “How many states begin with M again?” It’s 8. “And N?” Also 8.

The mnemonics below work for me, based on how many States and Capitals begin with each letter of the alphabet. If you’re not interested in this kind of information you can stop reading now.

The 50 US States

Here are the number of US States beginning with each letter:

8 Ms, 8 Ns;

AIWOC: 4 beginning with A, I and W, 3 beginning with O and C;

KTSV: 2 beginning with each of these letters;

FUDGHLPR (“Fudge Helper” without the letter “E”): 1 State for each of these letters.

I’ll go through these in reverse order:

FUDGHLPR: Florida, Utah, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island.

2 each for KTSV: Kansas, Kentucky; Tennessee, Texas; South Carolina, South Dakota; Vermont, Virginia.

3 O, C: Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon; California, Colorado, Connecticut

4 A, I, W: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas; Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa; Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

8 Ms: 3 beginning with Ma: Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts; 4 beginning with Mi: Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri; and finally Montana

8 Ns: 4 News and 2 Norths: New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York; North Carolina, North Dakota; and finally Nebraska and Nevada

The 50 State Capitals

The State Capitals are harder. Most of us have heard of each of the 50 US States, but some of the Capitals are rather obscure.

Here are the number of US State Capitals beginning with each letter:

SCABH: 6 beginning with S and C; 5 beginning with A; 4 beginning with B and H;

DJ LP TM: 3 State Capitals for each of these letters;

OR: 2 of each;

FIN: 1 for these letters

Once again, in reverse order:

FIN: Frankfort (Kentucky), Indianapolis (Indiana), Nashville (Tennessee)

OR: 2 Os: Oklahoma City (Oklahoma), Olympia (Washington); 2 Rs: Raleigh (North Carolina), Richmond (Virginia)

DJ LP TM: 3 of each

Denver (Colorado), Des Moines (Iowa), Dover (Delaware)

Jackson (Mississippi), Jefferson City (Missouri), Juneau (Alaska)

Little Rock (Arkansas), Lansing (Michigan), Lincoln (Nebraska)

Phoenix (Arizona), Pierre (South Dakota), Providence (Rhode Island)

Tallahassee (Florida), Topeka (Kansas), Trenton (New Jersey)

Madison (Wisconsin), Montgomery (Alabama), Montpelier (Vermont)

BH: 4 of each

Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Bismarck (North Dakota), Boise (Idaho), Boston (Massachusetts)

Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), Hartford (Connecticut), Helena (Montana), Honolulu (Hawaii)

A: 5

Albany (New York), Annapolis (Maryland), Atlanta (Georgia), Augusta (Maine), Austin (Texas)

SC: 6 of each

Sacramento (California), St Paul (Minnesota), Salem (Oregon), Salt Lake City (Utah), Santa Fe (New Mexico), Springfield (lllinois)

Carson City (Nevada), Charleston (West Virginia), Cheyenne (Wyoming), Columbia (South Carolina), Columbus (Ohio), Concord (New Hampshire)


Over the years, running through these lists, either in my head, or at the request of another trivia-hound, the two State Capitals that have eluded me most often (requiring me to go through the list of US States as a prompt) have been Lincoln (Nebraska) and Boston (Massachusetts).

Other trivial matters arising out of these lists

4 State Capitals begin with the same letter as the State itself: Dover (Delaware), Honolulu (Hawaii), Indiana (Indianapolis), Oklahoma City (Oklahoma)

A recent episode of “Pointless” (a repeat from 2013 or 2014) asked the contestants to name any of the most populous cities by state, i.e. the most populous city in any given state. One of the incorrect answers was Sacramento (it’s the state capital of California, but Los Angeles is the most populous city)

This is the kind of thing to get me searching for information, and this list tells me that in only 17 of the 50 States is the State Capital also the most populous city. They are:

Atlanta (Georgia), Boise (Idaho), Boston (Massachusetts), Charleston (West Virginia), Cheyenne (Wyoming), Columbia (South Carolina), Columbus (Ohio), Denver (Colorado), Des Moines (Iowa), Honolulu (Hawaii), Indianapolis (Indiana), Jackson (Mississippi), Little Rock (Arkansas), Oklahoma City (Oklahoma), Phoenix (Arizona), Providence (Rhode Island), Salt Lake City (Utah)

That’s enough trivia for now, even for me.


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