Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sad, Shitty Fact of Living in Des Moines

Really, you present yourself with your own difficulties by living in a city whose name actively thwarts pronunciation by anyone speaking English as a second language. But that’s only a small part of the problem, linguistically speaking, for Des Moines may mean “shitface.”

According to an etymological theory sponsored by, the name of this Iowa metropolis may derive from the Miami-Illinois word mooyiinkweena, which is fun to say even before you learn that it translates as “shitface” — frommooy, “excrement,” and iinkwee, “face.” According to Etymonline, the name was given to the inhabitants of the region by the Peoria Indians, in a grand Native American tradition of making fun of your hated neighbors. (Etymonline, by the way, points out that Peoria itself has become a dirty word in American pop culture, however.)

There’s another theory that the city name comes from the French des moines — “from the monks” or “of the monks” — but what is the fun in that?

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