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What does 'Okeechobee' mean?

How to pronounce 'Okeechobee,' and more probing questions before @okeechobeefest. #entertheportal #omf16

On the weekend of March 2-5, the word "Okeechobee" will spill from the mouths of concertgoers attending the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, the rock- and hip-hop-studded event that will cover 600 acres north of Lake Okeechobee.

But the way concertgoers will pronounce that word may be a different story. Do you say, "Oak-ee-chow-bee?" Or "Okay-choo-bee"? How about "O-key-chow-bae"? (Fun fact: Pronouncing the last one that way makes it sound as if you're having a seizure.)

Don't bother finding the proper way to say "Okeechobee" on the festival's website (OkeechobeeFest.com It's not there. But no matter: It's Oak-key-cho-bee. Not to be confused with brain busters Aquachobee, Yogachobee and — our favorite — Wobeechobee, three "villages" at the festival that will offer yoga classes, a Ferris wheel and tea lounges. (Admit it: "Wobeechobee" sounds less like a lakeside party zone and more like a lakeside retreat for Wookiees.)

All are worth remembering for festivalgoers strolling Sunshine Grove, an expanse of lush fields, sparkling lakes and shady woods, to see one of Okeechobee's more than 80 acts, which include Robert Plant, Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire's Win Butler, Mumford and Sons, Hall and Oates and Skrillex.

But where does "Okeechobee" come from? The festival shares its name with the county where it takes place (population: 39,149, according to United States Census 2014 estimates), and a city 16.3 miles southwest that also borders Lake Okeechobee, a which covers about 730 square miles.

The Orlando Sentinel wrote in 2003 that "Okeechobee" comes from two words: "oki," or water, and "chobi," or big, and was coined by the western Georgia Indian tribe Hitchiti. The region's Calusa Indian tribe also gave it another name: "Mayami," also meaning "big water."

So, yes, "Okeechobee" has a few origins. But we're sure it will gain one more meaning during the festival: as an expletive as used when swatting at a mosquito for the thousandth time.

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