Appendix:English terms of Native Central American or Caribbean origin

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An offshoot of Appendix:English terms of Native American origin, this list includes common nouns which originated from Native American language families spoken in the Caribbean, or both to the north and south of the Panama Canal. This does not imply a genetic relationship of these families to one another, it merely serves to catch terms derived from families which cannot be described as strictly North American or South American. See here for a list of place names, personal names and tribe names derived from these languages. (If a common noun is also the name of a tribe, place or person (e.g. "Mohawk"), this is noted in this list only in the etymology.)

specific language unclear[edit]

  • henequen — "agave fiber", "Agave fourcroydes, the plant from which this fiber is obtained" — said to be from a Caribbean language
  • mangrove — "any of various tropical evergreen trees or shrubs that grow in shallow coastal water" — alteration of the earlier spelling "mangrow", from Portuguese mangue or Spanish mangle, from a Caribbean language (probably Taíno)

from Arawakan languages[edit]

specific language unclear[edit]

  • cacique (also: caziq, cazique) — "(Latin American) chief", "particular kind of blackbird" — Taíno cacike (chieftain) or Arawak kassequa (chieftain)
  • cannibal — "human who eats human flesh; organism which eats others of its own kind" — from an Arawakan language term ultimately cognate to Carib (with alternation of r and n)
  • canoe — "small long and narrow boat, propelled by one or more people using paddles" (as a verb: "to travel in or by, or to propel, such a boat") — Arawak, or Taíno kanoa (dugout canoe)
  • cay — "small, low island" — from an Arawakan language
  • key — (variant of "cay")
  • pawpaw — "American deciduous tree, Asimina triloba", "edible fruit of this tree, which has yellow flesh and few black seeds" — presumably related to "papaya"
  • yautia (or: yautía) — "new cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolium" — (via Spanish, from) Taíno or Arawak

from Arawak[edit]

  • guava — "tropical tree or shrub of the myrtle family, Psidium guajava", "edible fruit of this tree, having yellow, green or brown skin and yellow or pale green meat" — Arawak guayabo (guava tree)
  • guayaba — "guava" — (like "guava", from Arawak guayabo (guava tree))
  • iguana — "any of several members of the lizard family Iguanidae" — Arawak iwana
  • papaya — "tropical American evergreen tree, Carica papaya", "large, yellow, edible fruit of this tree, which has many spicy black seeds" — Arawak papáia

from Taino[edit]

  • barbecue (also: barbeque) — "framework, such as a grill, on which to cook meat", "meat cooked on such a framework", "gathering centred on the cooking and eating of such meat" (as a verb: "to cook (meat or other food) on such a framework") — from Taíno barbakoa, barbacoa (framework of sticks (on which meat is cured))
  • cassava — "manioc, yuca, the woody shrub Manihot esculenta", "edible, starchy, tuberous root of this plant" — Taíno caçábi (not synonymous with "yucca"; see also "tapioca")
  • hammock — "swinging couch or bed, usually made of netting (sometimes of canvas), suspended by a cord at each end" — Taíno
  • hurricane — "violent tropical cyclone" — Taíno Juracán (storm god)
  • maize — "corn" — Taíno mahís, mahiz
  • maguey — "any of various large agave plants", "fiber or rope made from these plants" — Taíno maguey
  • potato — "plant tuber Solanum tuberosum, eaten as a starchy vegetable" — Taíno batata (sweet potato)
  • savannah (also: savanna) — "tropical grassland with a few scattered trees" — Taíno (*)zabana
  • tobacco — "plant of the genus Nicotiana", "leaves of this plant, as used in cigars, etc" — either from Arabic or from Taíno(!)

from Cariban languages[edit]

"Carib", "Galibi Carib" or specific language unclear[edit]

  • anole — "any of the American lizards in the genus Anolis which have brightly coloured dewlaps and the ability to change colours" — from a Cariban term (earlier spelled "anoli")
  • caiman (or: cayman) — "Central and South American creature of the genus Caiman, related to the alligator and resembling an alligator or crocodile, but smaller than either", "semi-aquatic South American lizard of the genus Dracaena" — Galibi Carib
  • chigger — (variant of chigoe)
  • chigoe — "small tropical flea which burrows and lays eggs under mammals' skin" — from Cariban/Galibi Carib
  • divi-divi — "Caesalpinia coriaria (or the related spinosa)", "astringent pod of this tree, used in tanning and dyeing" — Cariban
  • manatee — "herbivorous marine mammal with two front flippers" — Cariban/Galibi Carib
  • pirogue — "small, flat-bottomed boat or canoe of shallow draft" — Galibi Carib piraua
  • plantain — "(fruit of a) plant of the same genus Musa as the banana, but with lower sugar content, usually cooked before eating" — Galibi Carib platana (banana) (this word is homographic with a Latinate word for a plant of the genus Plantago!)
  • tamarin — "silky-furred South American marmoset, which has a nonprehensile tail" — Cariban
  • tinamou — "any of 47 species of Central and South American birds" — Cariban tinamu
  • yuca — "cassava (Manihot esculenta)" — Cariban/Galibi Carib yuca (cassava)
  • yucca — "any of several evergreen plants with sword-shaped leaves and large white flowers" — Cariban/Galibi Carib yuca (cassava) (erroneously applied in English to Asparagaceae)
  • zaman (also: zamang) — "large tropical tree in the pea family, Albizia saman" — Cariban

from Macushi[edit]

from Chibchan languages[edit]

from Kuna[edit]

  • guan (earlier: quan) — "any of several American species of birds in the genera Aburria, Chamaepetes, Oreophasis, Penelope, Penelopina and Pipile (of the family Cracidae)" — Kuna kwama