Des Moines is a city in Iowa. Its name allegedly comes from a French derivation of “Moingoana,” an Indian tribe that once lived along the banks of what is now the Des Moines River. But it turns out that part’s not actually true.
The name was actually a joke offered to the French explorers Marquette and Jolliet in 1673. Based on the work of several linguists, “Moingoana” comes from the word “mooyiinkweena,” which means “the poop faces.”
It’s thought that the name was actually given by the people of the Peoria village near the mouth of the Des Moines River, and when they were asked about neighboring villages by Marquette, the Peoria chief gave him “the poop faces” to throw him off.
What’s funny is Marquette was fluent in the language. He just didn’t pick up any mischief behind it.