The 48 mainland state are referred to as the "contiguous united states", I can't seem to find the word for "All 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska, not including Guam and Puerto Rico". I can't help but feel like there should be a more professional term than "all of the states"


5 Answers 5


A frequent term is just "the 50 states." Using the number 50 is more common than spelling out fifty and by explicitly noting 50 it is unlikely anyone thinks you are including the non-states which would be objects 51 and 52.

You could also refer to "the States" but this is a little more ambiguous as "the States" is often used as a nickname for "the United States."

By the way, the "contiguous United States" does not inherently exclude the District of Columbia. The context of its usage will determine whether the reader considers D.C. part of the term.

  • I agree: "The 50 states" is the best term. A few notes. 1) In the US, a "state" is about sovereignty. In some contexts (such as law), using "sovereign" might be superior, examples: the sovereign states, sovereign jurisdictions, the 50 sovereign states. 2) Most style guides say to use numerals for numbers greater than nine or ten, so "50" will certainly be more common than "fifty" but if you want to use it as a proper noun, you might consider "Fifty States." 3) This pages uses "50 states" in your context, and I like it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territories_of_the_United_States Feb 15, 2015 at 22:36

Consider "The Fifty States."

  • The NGram doesn't illustrate how this term is used, i.e. whether or not in fact people use it to describe the U.S. minus its "insular areas" and D.C. It shows simply that the term gained currency in the 1960s— which should surprise no one, considering that before 1959 there were only 48 states.
    – choster
    Apr 15, 2014 at 21:58
  • @choster Do you think "states" in "The 50 states" should be capitalized or not?
    – Elian
    Apr 16, 2014 at 0:52

I'd think "United States of America" includes ALL the states. PR is a commonwealth.

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    Four of the states refer to themselves as commonwealths so being a commonwealth isn't really what excludes Puerto Rico from being one of the 50 states.
    – MrHen
    Apr 15, 2014 at 20:22

The best (least worst) term I could cobble together is "non-insular USA".

With so many different terms for states/commonwealths/districts vs. territories/associated-states/minor-outlys, "insular" is the only word that seems to have the specific delineation.



As for everything else but "The Lower 48" you might be able to say "Non-contiguous States and Territories" Of course there is also "United States Minor Outlying Islands"

  • The Lower 48 necessarily including Florida and Hawaii and excluding Maine and Alaska. Try again.
    – tchrist
    Feb 15, 2015 at 21:07

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