U.S. state, the region is traditionally said to have been named by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano when he passed through in 1524, based on an imagined similarity between modern Block Island and the Greek Isle of Rhodes. More likely from Roodt Eylandt, the name Dutch explorer Adriaen Block gave to Block Island c. 1614, literally "red island," so called for the color of its cliffs. Under this theory, the name was altered by 17c. English settlers by influence of the Greek island name (see Rhodes), and then extended to the mainland part of the colony. Block Island later (by 1685) was renamed for the Dutch explorer.
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