THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?
Words nearby Windy City
BEHIND THE WORD
What does Windy City mean?
Windy City is a popular nickname for Chicago, Illinois.
How is Windy City pronounced?
[ win-dee sit-ee ]
Where does Windy City come from?
In 1854, the city of Buffalo, New York, was called a “city of winds” in a Boston publication, and the nickname Windy City was used to refer to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1856.
Ever since the 1860s, though, the nickname Windy City has applied almost exclusively to Chicago, Illinois, a metropolis subject to intense, often frigid winds from Lake Michigan. But just as soon as Chicago became the Windy City, people began punning on the weather-based nickname to decry Chicago’s politicians, businesspersons, and realtors as “full of hot air,” or wind, the city being historically associated with corruption.
Contrary to popular myths, the mocking moniker Windy City predated 1893, when New York Sun editor Charles Dana is often cited as inventing Windy City. Dana is said to have dismissed the “nonsensical claims of that windy city” of being superior to New York because of hosting a world’s fair: “Its people could not hold a world’s fair even if they won it.”
While making for a good story, there is no firm evidence that Dana’s editorial ever existed, and even if it did, the pejorative Windy City already reaches back to the 1870s. The nickname Windy City, as far as we can tell, emerges, in fact, because Chicago can be, well, very windy.
As Chicago’s prominence expanded in the 1900s, Windy City became a firmly established nickname for Chicago, and usually without implying any derision.
How is Windy City used in real life?
Today, the nickname Windy City is regularly used by locals and outsiders alike, much like how New York City is called the Big Apple. It is often used in movies, books, TV shows, marketing materials, and popular media to refer to Chicago in general and specifically to its cold, windy weather.
As noted, Chicago’s nickname is seldom used to insult the city, for all its history and stereotypes of corruption, unless in context of the folk etymology about the origin of the name Windy City.
Many Chicagoans look upon the Windy City with pride, using it as an inspiration for sports teams (e.g., one-time soccer club, the Chicago Winds, and minor hockey team, the Chicago Wind). It is also incorporated into the names of many local businesses and souvenirs.
More examples of Windy City:
“Chicagoans, tourists alike love summer in the Windy City”
—Nancy Trejos, USA Today (headline), July 2017
“The city that’s nicknamed “The Windy City”, is, windy? 🤔 noooo never would have guessed”
—@marchmadness14, July 2017
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for Windy City
Throughout the fifties, in city after city, fluoridation became the subject of fierce debate.
To put it rather uncharitably, the USPHS practiced a major dental experiment on a city full of unconsenting subjects.
Today, the city is an Asian hipster outpost, with shopping malls, clothing boutiques, and mixologist-prepared cocktails.
“I love my job and I love my city and I am committed to the work here,” he said in a statement.The Golden State Preps for the ‘Red Wedding’ of Senate Races|David Freedlander|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Saved from the public gallows, Weeks was virtually exiled from the city, and wound up in Mississippi, where he raised a family.New York’s Most Tragic Ghost Loves Minimalist Swedish Fashion|Nina Strochlic|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
This city stands upon almost two equal parts on each side the river that passes through.Gulliver's Travels|Jonathan Swift
When she arrived she made a regular entry into the city in a coach all gold and glass, drawn by eight superb plumed horses.Music-Study in Germany|Amy Fay
You see, I am the city undertaker, and the people are dying here so fast, that I can hardly supply the demand for coffins.
Cheap as they are, they are a poorer speculation than even corner lots in a lithographic city of Nebraska or Oregon.
The streets here are rather wide for an Italian city but would be deemed intolerably narrow in America.