1893, American English, from U.S. engineer George W.G. Ferris (1859-1896), who designed it for the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. It was 250 feet tall and meant to rival the Eiffel Tower, from the 1889 Paris Exposition. The surname is said to be a 16c. form of Ferrers, borne in England by two families, from two places named Ferrières in Normandy.