There exist a surprising amount of contradictory etymologies swirling around the Internet for the city of Nome, Alaska, and all of the possibilities are very interesting. One theory is that it's a transliteration of the Inupiaq word for "I don't know", no-me, because they were misunderstood while trying to communicate confusion to European settlers asking what the name of the place was. Another proposal is that the toponym traces from an 1849 British map, where they didn't have a name for the area and just wrote ? Name, which was later misread to be C. Nome, hence the name. Although possible, both of these stories sound a little far-fetched to me; the most likely explanation is probably that the city was named after a town in Norway by founder Jafet Lindeberg, who was from there.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.