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.Know More
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.Learn More
Nebraska derived its name from "nebrathka," an Oto Indian word that means "flat water." It pertains to the Platte River, which was adopted in 1998 as the Nebraskan state river.Full Answer >
Chicago got its name from the word "shikaakwa," which means "wild onion" in the Algonquin language. Because the wild onions grew profusely in the area around the Chicago River the Algonquins used "shikaakwa" to refer to the area.Full Answer >
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 >
The exact origin of the name Wisconsin is uncertain, but it likely comes from one of two Native American words. Wisconsin may be an Algonquian Indian word that means "long river," or a Chippewa/Ojibwa/Anishinabe word, "Ouisconsin," that means "grassy place," or "gathering of the waters."Full Answer >