"Vermont," taken literally, means "Worm Mountain" (was: Re: FW: Indian Summer,...)

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon Mar 24 19:40:32 UTC 2003

At 1:48 PM -0500 3/24/03, James A. Landau wrote:
>One final note:  "Vermont" is French, "Vert Mont" or "Green Mountain", and
>there is a range called the "Green Mountains" in it.  Are the Green Mountains
>mostly covered with evergreens, in which case you won't see bare branches in

   "Vermont" was no doubt *intended* to mean "Green Mountain," but in
fact it means "Worm Mountain" (French "le ver" = the worm). Most
French adjectives follow the noun (with a few very noticeable
exceptions, e.g. beau/belle, bon/bonne).  So the name was evidently
coined by Americans who knew a bit of French but not enough to get
the name right. The correct name would be "Montvert."

    "Vermont" evidently joins a long list of French names in the U.S.
which somehow got mangled; e.g., Smackover (Arkansas, I believe) from
"Chemin Couvert" and "Picketwire (River)" from "Rivière du)
Purgatoire," "Lemon Fair (Creek)" from "Les Monts Verts."

    I once read a story about how "Vermont" got its name but don't
remember the source and hence can't vouch for its authenticity.  It
had something to do with the residents of what is now Vermont wanting
to assert their independence from
an area with a noticeable population of German origin (what is now
New Hampshire?) and chose a French name to help establish the
distinctiveness of the new state.  If this is correct, perhaps
someone could provide some clarifying detail.  If it's wrong in any
way, please read this last paragraph with mercy in your hearts..

Gerald Cohen

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