Appendix:English terms of Native North American 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 to the north of the Panama Canal. Terms from language families spoken on both sides of the Canal, or in the Caribbean, are listed separately; terms from Eskimo-Aleut languages are also listed separately. 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 and family unclear[edit]

from Algic languages[edit]

from Algonquian languages[edit]

specific language unclear[edit]

commonly conjectured to be Algonquian

from Abenaki and Penobscot[edit]

from Cree and Montagnais (Innu)[edit]

from Lenape (Delaware), Unami or Munsee[edit]

  • kinnikinnick (a staggering variety of spellings exist, including ones ones with "l" like killikinick; see the entry for a list) — "mixture of bark, dried leaves, and sometimes tobacco, which is smoked", "any of the plants (which produce berries) used in this mixture" — from Unami këlëkënikàn (smoking mixture, killikinick)
  • manitou (sometimes: manito) — "(term used by non-Native Americans for a) god, deity (as revered among Native North Americans)" — from Unami/Munsee, compare Unami manëtuhalao (he gave him supernatural power)
  • moonack — "groundhog" — Unami munhake (groundhog; he digs)
  • Neshannock — "white-fleshed variety of potato, suitable for table use" — (named for the place in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, where it was first produced; the placename deriving from) a Lenape term for "place of two streams", from nisha (two) + a root meaning "stream" (compare (tànk)hane (narrow stream), (wëlà)hëne (nice stream) + the locative suffix -k
  • punkie (also: punky) — "any of the small biting gnats/midges of the family Ceratopogonidae" — Munsee *pónkwes
  • rockaway (or: rockaway carriage, Rockaway carriage) — "either of two types of carriage" — after a placename, from Unami lekawe (sandy place) or a Munsee cognate of that word
  • seawan (also: sewan, seawant, zeawant) — "wampum (especially if not strung)" — Munsee *séwan (unstrung (scattered) wampum)
  • shoepac — "shoe (especially: warm, waterproofed boot)" — Unami chipakw (shoe) (with hte anglicisation influenced by "shoe")
  • tipitiwitchet — "Venus flytrap" — a Lenape word titipiwitshik (they (the leaves) wind around (things))

from Malecite-Passamaquoddy[edit]

(also called Maliseet–Passamaquoddy)
  • quoddy — "herring, especially if caught and cured (or smoked) near any of the various northeastern American places named Quoddy or Passamquoddy" — (from the placenames, from the tribe's name, thus) ultimately from Malecite-Passamaquoddy

from Massachusett or Narragansett[edit]

from Mi'kmaq[edit]

from Mohegan-Pequot[edit]

from Ojibwe[edit]


from Powhatan[edit]

from other specific Algonquian languages[edit]

  • chebacco (also: chebec) — "narrow-sterned boat" (used in Newfoundland fisheries) — (from the town of that name) from Agawam, an Eastern Algonquian language
  • sea puss (earlier: seapoose; sometimes especially erroneously: sea-purse) — "(oceanic phenomenon:) strong nearshore current resulting from seaward water flow" — Quiripi (Unquachog) seépus (river), cognate to Abenaki sibo (river)
  • sepoose — "(flowing) channel which results when a cut is deliberately made by humans in a barrier beach which separates a bay from an ocean, so as to control the water level in the bay (which affects water mills) and its salinity (which affects shellfish)" — (this variant spelling of "sea puss" is used when the word has this sense)
  • wickiup — "domed hut-like Native American dwelling used in the southwestern and western US" — Fox/Kickapoo wiikiyaapi (lodge, house)

from Caddoan languages[edit]

from Caddo[edit]

  • caddi — "civil/secular chief of the Hasinai confederacy" — Caddo (related to English "Caddo", from Caddo kaduhdá·čuʔ (a particular Caddoan band))
  • cona — "(Caddo) minor shaman who can cure sickness, ward off evil, and make predictions" — Caddo cona, kuna (doctor, healer)
  • xinesi (also: chenesi) — "high priest of the Hasinai confederacy" — Caddo xinesi, chenesi (priest)

from Chinookan languages[edit]

from Chinook[edit]

(also called Lower Chinook, Chinook proper)

from Chinook Jargon[edit]

(words are listed here only if their original language unclear)

from Iroquoian languages[edit]

from Southern Iroquoian languages[edit]

  • sequoia — "either the one living or the one extinct genus of redwood coniferous trees in the Sequoioideae subfamily, of the Cupressaceae family" — after the Cherokee figure Sequoyah ᏍᏏᏉᏯ (Ssiquoya, as he signed his name) / ᏎᏉᏯ (Se-quo-ya, as his name is often spelled today)

from Northern Iroquoian languages[edit]

  • Adirondack chair — "particular kind of outdoor lounge chair made of wood, with wide arm rests" — from the mountains, from the Mohawk *ratirontaks, atirú:taks, hatiron'taks (they eat trees), a generic Mohawk term for other tribes (including the French and English, but especially other Native Americans who ate bark and buds in times of need)
  • wyandotte (often: Wyandotte) — "particular kind of poultry, said to be a cross of a bantam cock and a Cochin hen", "the Wyandot people" — (from the tribe name,) from Wyandot (in the Huronian family) Wendat (their autonym)

specific language unclear[edit]

  • dowitcher — "any of three long-legged, long-billed wading birds in the genus Limnodromus" — from an Iroquoian (northern?) language, compare Oneida tawístawe (snipe)
  • Niagara — "deluge, flood, torrent", "large, juicy, green North American grape: a variety of Vitis labrusca which is eaten and used in the production of wines, jams and white grape juice", "a particular river which flows, over a waterfall, from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario" — ("deluge" alludes to the waterfall, the grape is named after the area of its origin; the name of the area is from) Iroquoian
  • ondatra — "muskrat" — from an Iroquoian (northern?) language, perhaps Wyandot (Huron)
  • Oswego tea — "Monarda didyma" — "Oswego" (from an Iroquoian language) + "tea"

from Mayan languages[edit]

specific lect unclear[edit]

  • cigar — "tobacco in a thick roll wrapped with (an outer covering of) tobacco leaves, intended to be smoked" — Mayan sicar (smoke tobacco leaves, verb)
  • cigarette — "tobacco in a thin roll wrapped with paper, intended to be smoked" — from "cigar"
  • halach uinic — "Mayan governor" — from Mayan halach uinic (true man)

from Q'eqchi[edit]

from Yucatec Maya[edit]

from Misumalpan languages[edit]

from Miskito[edit]

from Muskogean languages[edit]

from Choctaw[edit]

  • appaloosa — "catfish" — shortening of "Appaloosa cat", named for the Appaloosa (Opelousa) tribe; the tribe's name is from Choctaw, the second element being losa (black) (not related to "appaloosa" meaning "horse")
  • bayou — "(in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas, a) "slow-moving, often stagnant creek or river", "(in LA, NS, TX, AR, a) swamp, marshy (stagnant) body of water" — (Cajun French, from) Choctaw bayuk (creek)
  • bobbasheely — "good friend" (as a verb: "to hang out (with friends)") — Choctaw itibapishili (sibling, one who was nursed together with (someone))
  • bogue — "bayou, waterway" — (Cajun French, from) Choctaw bok (creek, stream)
  • okeh — (variant of "OK") — Choctaw okeh (it is so) (this is sometimes given as the etymology of "OK" itself, although this is doubtful)
  • sac-a-lait — "white crappie (Pomoxis annularis)" — (Cajun French, from) Choctaw sakli (trout)

from Creek (Muscogee)[edit]

from Na-Dene languages[edit]

from Athabaskan languages[edit]

  • hogan — "(Navajo) dwelling, constructed of branches covered with mud" — Navajo (in the Apachean family) hooghan (dwelling, house)
  • quinzhee (or: quinzee) — "temporary shelter made by hollowing out a pile of settled snow" — Slavey (in the North Athabaskan family) kóézhii (in the shelter) (compare "igloo")

from Tlingit[edit]

  • hooch (also: hootch) — "(cheap) alcohol, liquor, whiskey" — shortening of "Hoochinoo", name of a specific alcohol, from the name of the tribe which produced it, said to be from Tlingit Hutsnuwu (grizzly bear fort)

from Penutian languages[edit]

(this is a hypothetical grouping used here only for convenience)

from Plateau Penutian languages[edit]

from Utian languages[edit]

from Purepecha[edit]

  • huarache — "particular (Mexican) kind of sandal", "food similar in shape to that sandal, consisting of salsa, potato, meat and cheese atop a fried masa (dough) base" — Purepecha kwarachi (sandal)

from Salishan languages[edit]

from Halkomelem[edit]

from Lower Chehalis[edit]

from Lushootseed[edit]

from Shuswap[edit]

from Siouan–Catawban languages[edit]

from Siouan (proper) languages[edit]

from Catawba[edit]

from Uto-Aztecan languages[edit]

specific language unclear[edit]

from Hopi[edit]

  • kachina (also: katchina, katsina) — "vaguely ancestral anthropomorphic spirit being", "wooden doll which represents such a being" (and some other senses) — Hopi qatsina
  • kiva — "ceremonial underground chamber in a Pueblo village" — Hopi kíva
  • Moqui marble (or: Moki marble) — "any of a group of iron oxide concretions shaped like small balls found in the Navajo Sandstone Formation in Utah" — Hopi móókwi (a former autonym of the tribe)
  • piki (also: piki bread) — "(thin, tortilla-like sheet of) rolled bread made of nixtamalized corn meal" — presumably from Hopi

from Nahuatl lects[edit]

from Numic languages[edit]

from O'odham[edit]

from Shoshone[edit]

  • kooyah (sometimes: kuya) — "(large, internally bright yellow, edible root of the) Valeriana edulis, which tastes and smells like tobacco until cooked, when it becomes sweet" (eaten by Native Americans in the Great Basin and Northwest) — Shoshone ("Snake language") kuya, kuyu (bitterroot, Valeriana edulis)
  • pogonip — "ice fog which forms in valleys in the Western United States" — Shoshone paγinappih (thunder cloud) or a related word
  • yamp — "umbelliferous plant (Perideridia gairdneri) which is native to California and has edible tubers" — probably from the same source as "yampa", "yampah"
  • yampa (or: yampah) — "any of several plants of the genus Perideridia, especially Perideridia gairdneri, which has an edible root" — Shoshone *yampa

from Taracahitic languages[edit]

  • saguaro — "large cactus in the genus Carnegiea, native to the Sonoran Desert, characterized by its arm-like protuberances" — from a Taracahitic Uto-Aztecan language, probably Mayo or Opata

from Wakashan languages[edit]

from Makah[edit]

from Nootka[edit]