Where does the Word Niagara Come From

Niagara Falls are one of the most beautiful places one can visit. Situated on the border between USA and Canada, the Niagara Falls can be observed from both sides, offering equally mesmerizing and captivating views.

Have you ever wondered where the Niagara Falls got its name? According to historians, the name “Onguiaahra” (pronounced on-ge-a-ra) appeared on world maps as early as the 1640s. It was also mentioned in the writings of Jesuit priest Jerome Lalemant. He argued that the word was from aboriginal origin, but couldn’t say much about its translation.

Survey of literature on the Niagara Falls, however, reveals the two most prominent translations. According to some, the aboriginal word can be loosely translated as “The Strait” or “The Great Throat”. The much more romantic translation is “Thunders of Waters”, or “resounding with a great noise”, according to others.

Even though Lalemant was the first to put the name in writing, he wasn’t the first to had first-hand knowledge of the Niagara Falls. Lalemant received word from his informants, and at first, the name Niagara was restricted to the river alone, and not the falls.

The "Onguiaahra" or "Ongiara" changed to "Niagara", when the first white men arrived at the Falls. In 1683, the name “Niagara” appeared officially on a map by Heneppin, a priest, credited with being the first European to publish an account of the Niagara Falls, based on personal observations. The spelling changed a bit throughout the years and became standardized in English during the early 18th century. The name was subsequently applied not only to the river and the Falls, but also to the Niagara Peninsula and the Niagara Escarpment, as well as a variety of other features.

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