This has nothing to do with your high school
May 28, 2010 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Is it St. Louis or Saint Louis?

Can you point me to anything that definitively states that the official name of the city in Missouri is either St. Louis, Saint Louis, or both?

I'm concerned here more with the city itself, not St. Louis County, or the metro area.

I see people use them interchangeably, and it bothers me for some reason. I also always have trouble with security questions where the answer for "What city were you born in?" doesn't allow for a ".". I'd like to back my rage up with facts!
posted by dyobmit to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
St. Louis' "official" travel portal refers to the city as "St. Louis."
posted by dfriedman at 11:36 AM on May 28, 2010

It is indeed St. Louis. As stated in the City Charter: The inhabitants of The City of St. Louis, as its limits now are or may hereafter be, shall be and continue a body corporate by name "The City of St. Louis," and as such shall have perpetual succession, may have a corporate seal, and sue and be sued.
posted by zsazsa at 11:37 AM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

This list of places in the 2000 Census contains St. Louis but not Saint Louis.

The St. Louis City Revised Code refers to the "City of Saint Louis" in some places and the "City of St. Louis" in others.

I'm not sure your question has a definitive answer.
posted by dmd at 11:42 AM on May 28, 2010

Ok, I stand corrected.
posted by dmd at 11:42 AM on May 28, 2010

Zsazsa's link seems more authoritative than the one I give, though it reaches the same conclusion.
posted by dfriedman at 11:46 AM on May 28, 2010

The city indeed refers to itself officially St. Louis. But I don't think this means that Saint Louis is particularly wrong, just more formal or old-fashioned, given that major institutions like art museum and SLU, for example, use "Saint" rather than "St."

As for not being able to use a period for the online security question, just pretend you're British; British English doesn't use a period for the abbreviation of "Saint," either, and for a number of abbreviations the period is fading out in American English, too.
posted by scody at 11:48 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

In practice the two are completely interchangeable. The Charter, as mentioned, refers to St. Louis, but the St. Louis City Revised Code refers to Saint Louis.

The US Postal Service canonical name is Saint Louis.

St. Louis is more common on the web, but Saint Louis is well represented. Saint Louis University spells it out, Washington University in St. Louis usually abbreviates, probably for brevity (it's spelled out on diplomas).
posted by jedicus at 11:51 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tangentially-related: There's a town in Scotland named St Andrews (without a ".")
posted by schmod at 11:52 AM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all.

It's weird there's no place that officially just states it one way or the other, and I wonder what that says about the place. The charter seems pretty authoritative, but then that city code has "Saint Louis" all over the place.

As for the security question, it comes down to specificity for me. In my head, the answer is "St. Louis", so anything else is a variation that I have to remember.

i.e.: "Did I use 'St Louis' or 'Saint Louis' or 'Florissant' because that's where I lived or 'Chesterfield' because, hey, technically, that's where the hospital was?" And then blammo I'm flagged as some kind of hacker for too many attempts.

posted by dyobmit at 12:11 PM on May 28, 2010

It's particularly annoying if you are trying to find a business in St. Louis and have to Google both variants.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:58 PM on May 28, 2010

Also...I'd probably change that security question answer since we now have your username and the city you were born in.

Just saying.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:56 PM on May 28, 2010

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is the ultimate authority here (and as far as I know the USPS basically defers to them). According to them, it is "City of Saint Louis" and "Saint Louis County".

I would say you're beanplating the issue of whether "St." or "Saint" is correct per se correct. The former is simply an abbreviation widely accepted for the latter. It is not really a separate word.
posted by dhartung at 10:34 PM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: hal_c_on: Good point, thanks. I think I'm all set.

dhartung: Definitely beanplating. I guess I was wondering if anyone had officially beanplated this, if that makes sense. Like, is there a style guide the city uses so that anything official, from sewer lids to letterhead, uses the same version? Or is it just wild(mid)west over there in city hall.
posted by dyobmit at 5:28 AM on May 29, 2010

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