The Iowa tribe refers to their language as Báxoje ich'é or Bah Kho Je (pronounced [b̥aꜜxodʒɛ itʃʼeꜜ]). The Otoe-Missouria dialect is called Jíwere ich'é (pronounced [d̥ʒiꜜweɾɛ itʃʼeꜜ]). The spelling Chiwere, used mostly by linguists, derives from the fact that the language has an aspiration distinction rather than a voice distinction (see the phonology section below), so that the unaspirated stops /b̥ d̥ d̥ʒ ɡ̊/ are variably voiced [b d dʒ ɡ] or unvoiced [p t tʃ k]. Although [tʃ] is a valid pronunciation of the first sound of Jiwere ~ Chiwere, it may mislead English speakers into pronouncing it [tʃʰ].
Similarly, a common folk etymology of Báxoje is "dusty noses," based on the misunderstanding of the first syllable bá as pá, or "nose." However, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma says Bah-Kho-Je means "grey snow," due to their winter lodges being covered with snow stained grey by fire smoke.