Read an interesting article on the interweb recently. I was curious about something, so I instantly went to that great research library in the ether, the internet. How nice to explore any whim with just the touch of a couple of keys.
This whim was the meaning of Des Moines. As we have a Des Chutes in our area and I knew its meaning, "the falls," I wondered if Des Moines had a similar water feature definition. I found out the answer is no. Not unless by water feature you mean something to do with sewage.
The accepted definition of Moines is that is has to do with the French word for Monks. Because some French Trappist monks were in the Des Moines, Iowa area. An expert linguist has recently offered a theory that's even more compelling. Especially since the name predates the aforementioned monks.
Theorist Michael McCafferty says the word comes from a practical joke from one Native American tribe dissing another. When the first explorers guided by the tongue-in-cheek tribe arrived in the area, they asked who it was inhabited by. The guides said it was the territory of the Moingoana tribe.
Eventfully, Moingoana was shortened to Moines and therefore Des Moines. Unfortunately Moingoana was an attempt to spell out mooyiinkweena, which translates to, to put it politely, "excrement faces." Which no matter how you feel about monks, or neighboring tribes, is certainly not a nice thing to say.
So for years the modern day citizens of the Des Moines area have inadvertently been calling themselves poop faces.
"Where you from?"
"I'm a proud Des Moines resident."
Still, there's good news. We now have another euphemism for getting drunk. "Man I had so much to drink last night. I was totally Des Moined."
America, ya gotta love it.