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.
powwow, pow wow (s) (noun); powwows, pow wows (pl)
1. A meeting or social gathering of Native Americans, which sometimes included dancing: "The tourists were allowed to watch a real powwow as long as they were completely quiet and stayed outside the fence."
2. An American Indian ceremony that usually included magic, feasting, and dancing; all of which were performed for the cure of disease, success in hunting, victory in war, etc.: "The powwow took place at dusk, lead by the Indian priest, or medicine man, who was called in to heal the wounded after a skirmish with another tribe."
3. Etymology: from Narragansett powwaw, "shaman" or "one who has visions".
raccoon (s) (noun), raccoons (pl)
1. A carnivorous mammal with grayish-brown hair, black bands (mask like) crossing its face and with rings of black color on its long bushy tail and is usually active at night: "When Robert was camping in the forest with his Boy Scout group, he noticed a raccoon eating near his tent."

"The next day, Robert read in a book that raccoons not only lived in the forests in North America, where he was with the Boy Scouts, but also in Central America and sometimes they even ate small animals!"

2.Etymology: originally from Virginia Algonquian arahkun, from arahkunem, "he scratches with the hands".
sachem (s) (noun), sachems (pl)
1. The leader or chief of a Native American tribe; especially, of an Algonquian tribe: "The sachem called his tribe members together so they could discuss the upcoming journey to the north of their territory."
2. Etymology: from Narragansett (Algonquian) sachim, "chief, ruler".
sagamore (s) (noun), sagamores (pl)
A subordinate chief, one of second rank, of the Algonquian Indians: "After talking with members of his tribe, the chief called his sagamore to his side to discuss matters in private."
skunk (s) (noun), skunks (pl)
1. A small, mainly carnivorous mammal of the weasel family of North America: "The skunk has a bushy tail, black hair with white stripes from head to tail."

"When in danger or frightened, skunks eject a very strong and extremely unpleasant smelling fluid from a pair of glands near their tails."

"The fur of skunks were often used to make coats, head covers, etc."

2. Informally, a mean contemptible person: "When Rebecca was almost knocked down by a man who bumped into her, she said, 'You skunk, watch where you're going!' "
succotash (s) (noun) (usually, only singular).
1. A kind of stew using the kernels of corn, lima beans, and tomatoes: "Succotash is a meal that primarily comes from Canada and the United States which originated with Native Indians."

"In our modern times, succotash can have a mixture of vegetables and be very delicious with freshly baked corn bread."

2. Etymology: from Narragansett (Algonquian) misickqatash, "ear of corn".
tamarack (s) (noun), tamaracks (pl)
1. A deciduous tree of North America with reddish-brown colored bark and short bluish-green needles, the cones being quite shiny and oval: "Jane and Dan were out in the wet part of the area with their biology teacher, when they came across some tamaracks and learned that they yield strong, heavy timber."
2. Etymology: from Canadian French, tamarac, of Algonquian origin.
terrapin (TER uh pin) (s) (noun), terrapins (pl)
1. A web footed aquatic turtle of North America; especially, the diamondback, which lives on land or in fresh or tide water (where ocean tides and river water merge): "The terrapins, or water tortoises, are cooked and eaten by people in certain areas of North America."
2. Etymology: an altered form of torope from Virginia Algonquian.
toboggan (s) (noun), toboggans (pl)
1. A long, narrow, flat framework made of thin boards without runners that are turned upwards in the front and used to slide over snow or ice: "Bruce's children loved to slide on their toboggans in the winter when the hillside next to their house was covered with snow."
2. Etymology: from Canadian French tobogane; from Algonquian tobakun, "a sled".
toboggan (verb), toboggans; tobogganed; tobogganing
1. To coast or to slide downhill on snow: "Mike's children were always excited when it snowed because they enjoyed tobogganing in the field in their neighborhood."
2. To ride on a vehicle made of wood, being flat, long and narrow, without runners and curved up in the front: "The young students really enjoyed their recess times when they tobogganed down the snowy slope next to their school."
tobogganist (s) (noun), tobogganists (pl)
Someone who slides down inclines with a long wooden device the front of which is curved or turned upward without runners: "Jim built some flat sleds for his family so his youngsters could become skilled tobogganists and have fun sliding in the park with other children."
tomahawk (s) (noun), tomahawks (pl)
1. A hand weapon, and a tool, looking similar to an axe or a hatchet with a stone head, and later with an iron piece, which was used by the North American Indians: "One of the most interesting relics in Ingrid's inheritance was a tomahawk, which was found by her grandfather on one of his trips around Southern California."
2. Etymology: from Algonquian tamahaac, "what is used in cutting".
tomahawk (verb), tomahawks; tomahawked; tomahawking
To strike, to wound, or to kill with a small, short-handled, ax-type of instrument: "Indians in North America, during their conflicts with each other and with the American pioneers, tried to tomahawk their enemies when they were in close combat."
totem (s) (noun), totems (pl)
1. A natural object such as an animal or plant which is used as an emblem for a family or clan; especially, with the North American Indians: "Being seen as their ancestors or guardians, the totem is shown with great respect and honor."

"On the cabinet at home, Tamika has two genuine Indian wooden posts showing the totems of tribal people; similar to the original ones she saw on her last trip to British Columbia."

2. An emblem or symbol which is greatly revered or represents a person's status: "Some rich people buy very expensive and new cars which represent their totem of wealth."
3. Etymology: believed to have come from Ojibwa, or Algonquian odoodeman, "his sibling kin, his group or family"; hence, "his family mark".
totem pole (s) (noun), totem poles (pl)
A pole that is carved and painted with representations of natural objects: "Even in these modern times, totem poles are often erected by Indians of the northwestern coast of North America in front of their homes."

"Totem poles usually symbolize families and historical relationships."

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