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Denali (Mount McKinley)
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Borrowed from Koyukon Deenaalee (the tall one; the high one; the great one) (/dinæli/, variously rendered Dinale or Denali), from -naał- (be long, tall).[1]


Proper noun[edit]


  1. The highest mountain peak in North America (the third most prominent peak after Mount Everest and Aconcagua), located in central Alaska.
    • 1902, Dodd, Mead and Company, New International Encyclopedia:
      Mount McKinley was known to Russians as Bulshaia and to the natives of Cook Inlet as Traleyka. Both names signify 'high' or 'big mountain.' The natives of the interior know it as Denali.

Usage notes[edit]

  • During Russian ownership of Alaska, the name of the mountain was Больша́я Гора́ (Bolʹšája Gorá, big mountain), the literal translation of Denali.[2] It was briefly called Densmore's Mountain in the late 1880s and early 1890s after Frank Densmore, first European to reach its base.[3] In 1896, W. A Dickey, a gold prospector named it McKinley after then-presidential candidate William McKinley, writing "that fact [McKinley's nomination] was the first news we received on our way out of that wonderful wilderness"; the United States formalized the name Mount McKinley in 1917, but many Alaskans continued to refer to it as Denali,[4] the Alaskan board on geographic names made Denali official for state use in 1975,[5] and President Obama restored that name in August 2015.[6]





  1. ^ William Bright, Native American Placenames of the United States, citing Jetté and Jones (2000:432)
  2. ^ Dictionary of Alaska Place Names (1976, →ISBN; United States Department of the Interior) page 610
  3. ^ Frank Norris, Crown Jewel of the North: An Administrative History of Denali National Park and Preserve (National Park Service), volume 1, page 1
  4. ^ Kyle Hopkins, What's in a name? To Alaskans, plenty if it's Mt. McKinley
  5. ^ Jon Campbell, Old Name Officially Returns to Nation’s Highest Peak (30 August 2015): "The Alaska State Board on Geographic Names, acting under state authority, made the name Denali official for state use in 1975."
  6. ^ Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali