Q:

How did Illinois get its name?

A:

While most accounts agree that the state name "Illinois" comes from the tribe of Native Americans living there when the area was first explored by Europeans, exactly who brought the name into the English language is not clear. Folk etymologies have arisen to explain the name, although they do not necessarily align with the linguistic evidence.

The name "Illinois" comes from the Ojibwe word "ilinwe" or its plural, "ilinwek." When French explorers and missionaries came to the region, they transliterated the "-we" ending as "-ois" in keeping with French pronunciation at the time. While folk etymologies have reported that this word meant "tribe of superior men," actually it meant something like "he speaks the regular way." The first spelling of the area as "Illinois" occurred as early as the 1670s.

One story regarding the derivation of the word "Illinois" is that Jesuit missionary Father Jacques Marquette learned the word when he arrived in the region in 1674 and asked the people there who they were. Marquette reportedly claimed that "Illinois" meant "the men." Other folk etymology claims state that French explorer Robert de la Salle named the Illinois River after the tribes he found living in the region in 1679, and that the state was later named after the river.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What is the capital of Illinois?

    A:

    Springfield is the capitol of Illinois, as of 2014. The Illinois state government has been functioning in Springfield since 1839, and several buildings have served as its capitol since then. The sixth and current building is at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Second Street.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How deep is the frost line in Illinois?

    A:

    The frost line in Illinois is 40 inches, so the water in the soil has not been known to freeze deeper than that point. In Chicago, building codes require that concrete supports be poured at a depth of at least 3 feet 6 inches.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How did Arizona get its name?

    A:

    Historians disagree on the origin of the state name "Arizona," but the traditional consensus is that the name is derived from the O'odham term, "Ali-Shonak" or "Aleh-zon," the native name of an area in Arizona, which sounds like the word for "small spring." Another theory is that the name is derived from a Basque word that means "the good oak tree."

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How did Missouri get its name?

    A:

    The state of Missouri's name is derived from the tribe of Sioux Indians called the Missouris. The name "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes," and the state's nickname is the "Show-Me" state.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore