English words from Algonquian

(the language of a group of American Indian tribes that lived in the valleys of the Ottawa River and of the northern tributaries of the St. Lawrence River)

The words in this unit have been compiled from a list of the "Algonquian" language. The parts of speeches and definitions were added from a variety of sources.

—The basic entries come from the "Word Source" section in the
Scott, Foresman Advanced Dictionary by E.L. Thorndike and Clarence L. Barnhart;
Scott, Foresman and Company; Glenview, Illinois; 1973; page 28.
caribou (s) (noun), caribous (pl)
1. A large deer native to North America, also called reindeer in Europe and Siberia. In Canadian English also tuktu: "After a long trek in the woods during the winter season, the German hikers were finally rewarded with a view of a herd of magnificent caribou with their huge beautiful antlers."

"These caribou, or reindeer, had only been seen in books back in Germany."
2. Etymology: from Canadian French; of Algonquian origin.

caucus (s) (noun), caucuses (pl)
1. A meeting of people in the United States, usually of a political party, with the aim of choosing a candidate for a public office in elections: "There were only seven people in the caucus who had to decide which of the candidates had the best qualifications for being governor in the next elections."
2. A limited number of influential people in an organization or political party who have the same or similar interests and want to discuss specific issues: "The caucus of the Democratic Party finally agreed on how to spend their money on the upcoming project of helping young unmarried teenage mothers."
3. Etymology: is believed to be from native American origin, "closed party meeting". It's early usage was used only in the USA until the 1870s when it appeared in British English.

Its form and meaning resembles caucauasu, "counseller" in the Algonquian languages of eastern Canada and in the USA and it was presented in print by Captain John Smith (1580-1631), an English colonist who lived in America.

—Compiled from information located in
Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto; Arcade Publishing;
Little, Brown, and Company; New York; 1990; page 102.
chinquapin (s) (noun), chinquapins (pl)
1. Any of the small shrubby trees of the beech family, especially the dwarf chestnuts (genus Castanea), all of which bear edible nuts: "The family decided to get some chinquapins for their garden so they could enjoy the delicious nuts that the trees produce."
2. Evergreen trees of different kinds of species (genus Castanopsis) which grow in Asia and in western United States. They have deeply cut bark and dark green spear shaped leaves with nuts: "The dark green leaves and thick bark of the trees of chinquapins were reasons why Mark's uncle chose them for his private garden."

"The nuts of these little bush-like trees are small, sweet, and can be eaten; so, Sharon's mother asked her to collect some nuts from the chinquapin in the back yard so they could be roasted for the evening meal."

chipmunk (s) (noun), chipmunks (pl)
1. A member of the squirrel family, having pouches in its cheeks and light and dark stripes running down its head and back. It is a small rodent which burrows in the ground and is native to western America and Asia: "When Brian was a child camping in western Canada, he tried to feed a chipmunk out of his hand and he was bitten!"
2. Etymology:  comes from chitmunk, very likely from Ojibwa origin, "squirrel".
hickory (s) (noun), hickories (pl)
1. A deciduous tree of the walnut family which grows in North America with flat, soft bark and compound leaves: "The hickoies produce nuts that are hard and smooth and which cover edible seeds."

"The outside or husks of hickories can be divided into four parts."

"The old hickory tree outside the Rawson's house was very old and not producing many nuts anymore; so, it was cut down and used as wood for the family's fireplace!"

2. A stick or cane made of the wood of the same family as the walnut tree: "In earlier times a hickory stick, being easily bent, was used to whip unruly children in schools."
hominy (s) (noun), hominies (pl)
1. The kernels of corn which have been hulled, dried and boiled to be eaten as food: "The hominy we had in the stew for dinner last night was certainly different from the corn on the cob. It was absolutely delicious!"
2. Etymology: short for Virginia Algonquian; first recorded by John Smith in 1629.
manito (s) (noun), manitos, manito (pl)
1. A supernatural power in the religious belief of the Algonquian, pervading spiritual and human beings: "After reading a book about the Algonquian religion, Susan was fascinated by the manito and decided to do a report about it for school."
2. Etymology: the first use of the word dates back to 1671 and is related to Ojibwa, the manito spirit.
menhaden (s) (noun); menhaden, menhadens (pl)
1. A fish of the genus Brevoortia found in the Northern Atlantic and Gulf waters, used mainly for fish oil but also for fertilizer and bait: "Sarah didn't know it, but the medicine she took for her eyes contained fish oil from the fish menhaden!"
2. Etymology: a combination of Narragansette, which is a kind of herring, similar to munnohquahteau and the Algonquian poghaden.
moccasin (s) (noun), moccasins (pl)
1. A lightweight shoe or slipper made of soft leather and typically worn by native North American Indians: "Mary loves to wear her moccasins as slippers after her mother bought them in an Indian store during the family's last trip to Canada."
2. A poisonous water snake (Ancistrodon piscivorus) in the Southern United States: "The top of the moccasin is olive brown and black, while underneath, it is a brownish yellow color."

"The moccasin is similar to a rattlesnake, but it does not have rattles."

"Finally, the biology class went on a field trip to the zoo where they could see a real moccasin, not just those in their text books at school."

moose (s) (noun), moose (pl)
The largest of the deer family that exist in the northern part of North America: "A moose can weigh up to 1800 pounds (or 815 kilograms) and has very large antlers similar to a hand with fingers spread out."

"Ursula and Brian saw two moose deep in the forest next to a pond."

muskeg (s) (noun), muskegs (pl)
1. A kind of undrained swamp or bog having an accumulation of decaying leaves and other decayed vegetable matter, sometimes covered with moss and found mainly in Canada and Alaska: "Some of the local people decided to increase their income by selling peat which they dug up from a nearby muskeg."
2. Etymology: from Algonquian which means "grassy swamp".
muskellunge (s) (noun), muskellunge (pl)
1. A large pike with dark patterns which is typical in North America and can weigh up to 27 kilos or 60 pounds. It is usually fished as a sport: "The thirteen year old boy was so proud to have caught a muskellunge, or muskie, as his very first fish!"
2. Etymology: from Canadian French maskinongé and from Ojibwa maskinose or maashkinoozhe.
opossum, possum (s) (noun), opossums, possums (pl)
1. A white or gray marsupial and nocturnal animal (Didelphis virginiana) with a long nose, a long prehensile tail, a thick coat of hair, and lives in the eastern United States: "Susan was completely shocked when she suddenly came across an opossum while taking out the garbage in the evening. It seemed to be dead, but it was really just pretending!"
2. Etymology: from Algonquian opassum, opussum, or aposoum; the same as Proto-Algonquian "white" + "dog".
pogy (s) (noun), pogies (pl)
1. Another term for menhaden, an ocean fish of the herring family: "Pogies are found on the Atlantic coast of the United States and they are used for bait, fertilizer, or a source of oil."

"The fishermen were very pleased to have had such success in catching so many pogies because they could sell them to be used as fertilizer, which was another source of income for them!"

2. Etymology: a shortened and altered form of Poghaden, possibly from Eastern Abenaki.
powpow (verb), powwows; powwowed; powwowing
To have meetings or conferences: "While William and Rebecca were powwowing about their upcoming vacation in Southern California, they heard about the horrendous fires that broke out near Los Angeles and so they decided to delay their trip."

See other English words from foreign languages at this
Other Languages Index.