The state of Illinois is a French version of the name of an Algonquin Indian tribe, the Inini, or “accomplished men.” The French altered the name to Illini and added the -ois suffix to refer to the tribe. The name is akin to the Miami alänia and the Shawnee hilenawe, meaning man or person.1
1Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, edited by Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 1126;
Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names, edited by Kelsie B. Harder (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 250.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton