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Illinois State Names (Etymology of Names)

Illinois Name Origin and State Nicknames


IL 3D Map: State Name OriginIllinois is a state in the Midwestern United States. It is the 5th most populous and 25th most extensive state, and is often noted as a microcosm of the entire country. The state is a major transportation hub, boasting major US cities like Chicago and Springfield. It is bordered by Wisconsin to the north, Iowa and Missouri to the west, Kentucky to the south and Indiana to the east, and the Wabash and Ohio Rivers on the southeast and south.

Illinois comes from the word Illini, a confederation of the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Moingwena, Peoria and Tamaroa Indian tribes.

Illinois Nicknames

  • Prairie State
  • Corn State
  • Inland Empire
  • Rainy State
  • Sucker State
  • Garden of the West
  • Garden State

Origin of Illinois State Name

The state of Illinois was named after the Illinois River.  Illinois is Algonquin for "tribe of superior men". The river itself was named by French explorer Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle in 1679 after the Indians he found living along the banks.

Illinois is the French spelling for the Illinois and Peoria Indian word "iliniwok," meaning men or warriors and perhaps refering to members of the Illinois tribe.

Illinois Nicknames

Prairie State

Sets aside the third full week in September each year as Illinois Prairie Week to demonstrate the value of preserving and reestablishing native Illinois prairies. The Prairie State, a name which it has had since at least as early as 1842, before which it was a term applied to all the plain states.

Garden of the West and The Garden State

Garden of the West is an old nickname came about because of the rolling prairies of Illinois and the miles of cultivated fields that made Illinois one of the leading producers of corn and later, soy beans, in the United States. A similar term, "The Garden State" was sometimes heard.

Corn State

Corn State is an appropriate nickname for a state where corn plays such an important role in the agricultural economy.The regio of the country referred to as the Corn Belt is centered in Iowa and Illinois.

Sucker State

The sucker fish once gave Illinois the nickname, The Sucker State (and also, incidentally, gave us the slang word "sucker", for someone who is easy prey).

Illinois Slogans

"Land of Lincoln:" The slogan that appears on Illinois license plates was adopted in 1955 by the General Assembly. In that same year, the U.S. Congress passed a special act granting to the State of Illinois a copyright for exclusive use of the "Land of Lincoln" insignia.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, is recognized for his noble vision, statesmanship, humanity, and political skill. He is one of the country's most enduring symbols of democracy. The slogan "Land of Lincoln" certainly describes Illinois well. Abraham Lincoln moved to Macon County, Illinois from Indiana in 1830 when he was 21 years old. He lived in Illinois until he became President in 1861. In addition to serving as President, Lincoln represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives for one term (1847-1849). He was a member of the Illinois Legislature from 1834 to 1841 (four terms).

Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois home is a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service. The Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, is a State Historic Site. New Salem, the village where Lincoln lived prior to moving to Springfield, is in nearby Petersburg.

  • Mile After Magnificent Mile
  • Right Here. Right Now.

Illinois Postal Code

  • IL

Standard Abbreviation

  • Ill.

Illinois Resident's Name

  • Illinoisan - Official (recommended by US GPO)
  • Illinoisian - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Illinoian - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Sucker - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Sand-hiller - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
  • Egyptian - Official, unofficial or informal alternates

People who live in or come from Illinois are called Illinoisians, Illinoisans or Illinoians. Nicknames for Illinoisians have included Sand-hillers, Egyptians and, Suckers.

State Names
State Names & Nicknames
The etymologies of some US state names are more obvious than others, derived from the Spanish or French tongue. Though, more than half of the US state names come from Native American tribal languages, with several still a mystery to scholars and historians.
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