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

From Powhatan makasin,[1] mockasin,[2] mawhcasuns (plural), from Proto-Algonquian *maxkeseni.[3] The word is cognate with Massachusett mohkisson, mokussin, Mi'kmaq mksɨn, Munsee mahkusin, Ojibwe makizin.[1]

It has been suggested that sense 4 (“North American snake”) may be derived from a different Native American word.[1]



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.]
    • 1824, William H[ypolitus] Keating, “Account of the Chippewa Indians. Their Usages, Manners, and Customs.”, in A Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter’s River, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, &c. &c. [] In Two Volumes, volume II, Philadelphia, Pa.: [[w:Henry Charles Carey|H[enry] C[harles Carey]] & I[saac] Lea [], →OCLC, page 151:
      The term Chippewa, which is generaly applied to this nation, is derived from that of O̓ˊche̓pe̓ˊwa̓g, which they restrict to the Indians who reside near Fond du Lac, it signifies plaited shoes, from the fashion among those Indians of puckering their moccassins.
    • 1826, [James Fenimore Cooper], chapter III, in The Last of the Mohicans; a Narrative of 1757. [], volume I, Philadelphia, Pa.: H[enry] C[harles] Carey & I[saac] Lea [], →OCLC, page 38:
      At length Chingachgook turned his eyes slowly towards his son, and demanded— / "Do the Maquas dare to leave the print of their moccasins in these woods?" / "I have been on their trail," replied the young Indian, "and know that they number as many as the fingers of my two hands; but they lie hid like cowards."
    • 1850 July, Lewis H[enry] Morgan, “The Fabrics of the Iroquois”, in James Stryker, editor, Stryker’s American Register and Magazine, volume IV, Washington, D.C.: W. M. Morrison [et al.], →OCLC, page 321:
      The moccasin is preëminently an Indian invention, and one of the highest antiquity. It is true to nature in its adjustment to the foot, beautiful in its materials and finish, and durable as an article of apparel. [] The moccasin is made of one piece of deer skin. It is seamed up at the heel, and also in front, above the foot, leaving the bottom of the moccasin without a seam.
    • 1930, Arthur Evans, “§87. Chryselephantine Figurines of ‘Boston Goddess’ and Boy-god Connected with Ivory Deposit: The Mother Goddess and Child.”, in The Palace of Minos: A Comparative Account of the Successive Stages of the Early Cretan Civilization as Illustrated by the Discoveries at Knossos, volumes III (The Great Transitional Age in the Northern and Eastern Sections of the Palace: The Most Brilliant Records of Minoan Art and the Evidences of an Advanced Religion), London: Macmillan and Co., Limited [], →OCLC, page 452:
      The carving of the toes, the articulation of which is slightly arched in some cases, shows great delicacy []. The feet of the leaping youths of the 'Ivory Deposit' omit this feature, since, as was usual in the sports of the bull-ring, they were shod in mocassin-like gear.
  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.
    • 1915 January, Robert Lloyd Trevor, “Shopping for the Well-dressed Man: The Parka and a New Overcoat, Some Shoes, Socks and a Muffler”, in Frank Crowninshield, editor, Vanity Fair, volume 3, number 5, New York, N.Y.: Vanity Fair Publishing Company, →OCLC, image caption, page 59, column 2:
      Walking moccasin of gray chrome tanned leather. Waterproof. Flexible elk sole.
    • 2000, Sara Gay Forden, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, New York, N.Y.: William Morrow and Company, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2012, →ISBN, page 38:
      The men's shoe, a classic, low-heeled moccasin, was called Model 175. A classier women's version soon followed.
  3. A light beige colour, like that of a moccasin.
    • 1898 October, Leverett W. Spring, “The Career of a Kansas Politician”, in J[ohn] Franklin Jameson, editor, The American Historical Review, volume IV, number 1, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., published 1899, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 80:
      He came in a primitive, rickety buggy, drawn by an old, moccasin-colored horse, which, it is to be hoped, had seen better days.
    • 1993, W[alter] Horace Carter, Bud Andrews, Headstart Fishing Handbook, Tabor City, N.C.: Atlantic Pub. Co., →ISBN, page 134:
      I prefer the Culprit brand in the moccasin color, the red shad color and the black with blue tail.
  4. Any of several North American snakes of the genus Agkistrodon, particularly the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the cottonmouth or water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus).
    • 1791, William Bartram, chapter X, in Travels through North and South Carolina, [], Philadelphia, Pa.: Printed by James and Johnson; London: Reprinted for J. Johnson, [], published 1792, →OCLC, page 268:
      The moccaſin ſnake is a large and horrid ſerpent to all appearance, and there are very terrifying ſtories related of him by the inhabitants of the Southern ſtates, where they greatly abound, particularly in Eaſt Florida: that their bite is always incurable, the fleſh for a conſiderable ſpace about the wound rotting to the bone, which then becomes carious, and a general mortification enſues, which infallibly deſtroys the patient; []
    • 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., [], published 22 March 1843, →OCLC, 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, 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “moccasin”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ moccasin”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ moccasin”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present, retrieved 8 April 2018, reproduced from Stuart Berg Flexner, editor in chief, Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.: Random House, 1993, →ISBN.

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