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What is the origin of the name Manhattan?

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3 Answers 3

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According to this 2004 article in the New York Times, it's probably from the Lenape language word Mannahatta, with a likely meaning "island of many hills."

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The name Manhattan derives from the word Manna-hata, as written in the 1609 logbook of Robert Juet, an officer on Henry Hudson's yacht Halve Maen (Half Moon). A 1610 map depicts the name Manahata twice, on both the west and east sides of the Mauritius River (later named the Hudson River). The word "Manhattan" has been translated as "island of many hills" from the Lenape language.

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The New York Time reference is the original source for the Wikipedia claim. –  cori Aug 17 '10 at 10:39
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+1, though asking people to first check Wikipedia or Google is generally considered rude on StackExchange sites. The idea is that we want to build the ultimate resource, i.e. we want to have all questions covered, even those already answered elsewhere. See Meta for further discussion, e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8724/… or meta.stackexchange.com/questions/52415/… –  RegDwigнt Aug 17 '10 at 10:40
    
Well okay, "all questions covered" might be useful regarding to a Google search (the search has to 'end' somewhere) but since Wikipedia is, by definition, a encyclopedia that would be where I'd expect a question like this one being answered. But this is not the right place for that kind of discussion ;-) –  perdian Aug 17 '10 at 11:35
    
The link reported in the answer takes to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan#Economy, where it is not explained the etymology of the name Manhattan. –  kiamlaluno Aug 17 '10 at 12:25
    
Sorry, the link should have taken you to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan#Etymology - corrected it in my original answer. –  perdian Aug 17 '10 at 12:37

The book, "The Englishman's Guide-book to the United States and Canada," published in London in 1885 by Sampson Low, Marston, SEarle & Rivington says on page 20 "an Indian name, meaning "a place where everybody gets drunk." I suppose this was some wild story made up for amusement, or who knows. The full text is in Google Books.

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