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A traditional Native American moccasin[1]
Two pairs of modern moccasins (sense 2), one for casual wear (above) and the other for formal wear (below)[2]

From Powhatan makasin,[3] mockasin,[4] mawhcasuns (plural), from Proto-Algonquian *maxkeseni.[5] The word is cognate with Massachusett mohkisson, mokussin, Mi'kmaq mksɨn, Munsee mahkusin, Ojibwe makizin.[3]

It has been suggested that sense 4 (“North American snake”) may be derived from a different Native American word.[3]



moccasin (plural moccasins)

  1. A traditional Native North American shoe, usually without a heel or sole, made of a piece of deerskin or other soft leather turned up at the edges which are either stitched together at the top of the shoe, or sewn to a vamp (a piece covering the top of the foot). [from early 17th c.]
  2. A modern shoe with either a low or no heel resembling a traditional Native American moccasin in that the leather forming the sides of the shoe is stitched at the top.
  3. A light beige colour, like that of a moccasin.
    moccasin colour:  
  4. Any of several North American snakes of the genus Agkistrodon, particularly the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the cottonmouth or water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus).
    • 1843 March 8, E. J. Ferguson, “On the Treatment of Hydrophobia”, in J[erome] V[an] C[roninsfield] Smith, editor, The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, volume XXVIII, number 7, Boston, Mass.: D. Clapp, Jr., proprietor and publisher, corner of Washington and Franklin Streets, published 22 March 1843, OCLC 57262260, page 135:
      The excellence of alkaline salts, as antidotes to the venom of serpents, has long been established. The volatile alkali is a common remedy in India for the bite of the cobra copella and viper, &c. The poison of the moccasin and rattlesnake is immediately counteracted by the application of this remedy.
    • 1891, J[ames] W[illiam] Buel, “Reptiles”, in The Living World: A Complete Natural History of the Worlds Creatures, Fishes, Reptiles, Insects, Birds and Mammals. [...], Philadelphia, Pa.; St. Louis, Mo.: Historical Publishing Company, OCLC 14081535, page 179:
      Having last considered amphibious reptiles, in treating of snakes we will first describe some of the species that make their home chiefly in the water, among which we find only a single species, the moccasin, that is venomous, and another, the anaconda, that is otherwise formidable.

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  1. ^ From the collection of the Musée de l'Armée in Paris, France.
  2. ^ The formal moccasins belonged to the former President of Argentina Néstor Kirchner (1950–2010) and are from the collection of the Museo del Bicentenario‎ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 moccasin” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018.
  4. ^ moccasin” (US) / “moccasin” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ moccasin” in Stuart Berg Flexner, editor in chief, Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd rev. and updated edition, New York, N.Y.: Random House, 1993, →ISBN; reproduced on Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present, retrieved 8 April 2018.

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