The state of Missouri is named after the river, which in turn is named after the Indian tribe. The name comes to English via French, who got it from the Illinois name for the tribe, *we:messo:rita, meaning one with a dugout canoe. Misso:ri in Illinois dialect means dugout canoe.1
1Oxford English Dictionary, Missouri, n. and adj., 3rd Edition, Dec 2008, Oxford University Press, accessed 24 Dec 2008 <http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/00312036>;
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, edited by Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 1446.
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