What Is the Meaning of the Name "Wisconsin"?


Quick Answer

The origin of the name "Wisconsin" has been heavily debated, but many historians believe it is derived from the Miami American Indian word "Meskonsing," meaning "river running through a red place." Meskonsing was an early name for the Wisconsin River, which contains banks of red sandstone.

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Full Answer

Meskonsing is a French spelling of the Miami Indian name "Meskousing" or "Mescousin." In 1674, explorer Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle accidentally spread the French pronunciation "Ouisconsin" after misreading the cursive letters in a missionary's journal. In the 1820s, American politicians gradually adopted the English phonetic spelling "Wisconsin" and popularized its usage by including it in government publications. By July 1836, this modern version was accepted as the official spelling.

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