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Eureka - The State Motto Of California

Updated on March 16, 2011
The Great Seal
The Great Seal

California’s State Motto

The State Motto of the State of California is “Eureka.” Eureka comes from the Greek and means “I have found it.” The California State Motto is the only State Motto rendered in Greek.

The term Eureka is found on The Great Seal of California. The Great Seal features the Roman goddess Minerva who was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war. The Seal also includes the official State Animal of California, the California Grizzly Bear, feeding on grape vines, a sheaf of grain. The Seal also includes a miner representing the great California Gold Rush and a picture in the background of San Francisco Bay or the Sacramento River. Lastly, the phrase Eureka appears at the top.

The Great Seal was designed in 1849 and adopted in the same year at the California State Constitutional Convention. The Seal was designed by Major Robert Selden Garnett of the U. S. Army. Major Garnett, however, was not present at the Constitutional Convention. Major Garnett believed that his design would not be approved believing that animosity existed between the military and local civil authorities. A plan was adopted that Caleb Lyon, one of the clerks of the convention, would present the design to the convention as his own creation.

The Seal included this Greek motto to signify California’s admission as a State and a miner’s success. The words were most likely intended to refer to the discovery of Gold in California near Sutter’s Fort in 1848. Miners who found Gold in the California Hills are said to exclaimed “Eureka.”



The origins of the word Eureka comes from Ancient Greece. Archimedes, the famed Greek mathematician, is said to have exclaimed “Eureka” when, after long study, discovery a method of determining the purity of Gold. The story is associated with a story that involves a suspicious King Heiros of Syracuse, a gold crown and what would become known as Archimedes' Principle. King Heiros decided to have a gold crown made. The King gave a local goldsmith gold to create the crown.  When the crown was finished, the King was suspicious that the goldsmith did not use all of the gold.  He asked Archimedes to figure out if all of the gold was used.

The crown weighed the same as the amount of gold given to the Goldsmith.  Archimedes knew that an allogy of gold and silver would weight the same as a smaller crown of Gold.  The legend states that Archimedes, while visiting a public bath, noticed that when he got into a bathwater spilled out over the edge of the tub.  Archimedes determined that the volume of water that spilled out would equal his body.  To determine if the King's crown was solely made of Gold, all Archimedes would have to do is find a piece of gold that displaced the same amount of water as the crown.  The legend states that upon making this discovery, Archimedes ran out of the public bath naked screaming Eureka.

In the 1950s there were attempts to establish “In God We Trust” as California’s State Motto. However, those attempts failed. Oddly, Eureka had never been official made the State Motto of California as it had been adopted as part of the Great Seal of California. In 1963, the California State Legislature officially adopted “Eureka” as the State Motto of California.


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    • profile image

      Jamie FOX 3 years ago

      what is the meaning og California

    • bgpappa profile image

      bgpappa 3 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Because it was a fancy way to say I found it - referring to Gold

    • profile image

      Manny 3 years ago

      My question why is the word Eureka on the state seal

    • bgpappa profile image

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Years ago. Why?

    • profile image

      crystal 5 years ago

      when did u type this what year and date

    • bgpappa profile image

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Care to elaborate?

    • profile image

      Derek 5 years ago

      What's up with the info

    • bgpappa profile image

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California


    • profile image

      Jack 5 years ago

      This gives a lot of information

    • bgpappa profile image

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Do you wish to expand?

      Thanks for stopping by

    • profile image

      cristal 7 years ago



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