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- pau wau
- almost all capitalization, punctuation, and spacing variants are attested, such as pow wow, Pow-Wow, etc.
From an Algonquian language, probably Massachusett pauwau (“he uses divination; he practices magic or sorcery”) or Narragansett powwáw (“sorcerer, shaman”), from Proto-Algonquian *pawe·wa (“one who dreams”).
powwow (plural powwows)
- A ritual conducted by a Native American shaman.
- A Native American shaman.
- A Native American council or meeting.
- (informal) A short, private conference.
- (Canada, US) A large gathering during which Indigenous songs and dances are showcased for an audience, essentially a recital or concert. Often also doubles as a fundraiser, or can be held in conjunction with a non-indigneous fair or exhibition in order to attract a large crowd, as at the Calgary Stampede and K-Days.
- (intransitive, of Native Americans) To hold a meeting; to gather together in council.
- 2005, Glen Tucker, Tecumseh: A Vision of Glory, page 224:
- [The] Indians saw everything that happened and powwowed all night, needing more than anything else the presence of Tecumseh. The most aggressive element was the Winnebagos, who insisted on attacking.
- (intransitive, of Native Americans and by extension other groups, such as the Pennsylvania Dutch) To conduct a ritual in which magic is used.
- 2007, David W. Kriebel, Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, page 10:
- Maybe no one— except possibly Leah— powwowed anymore.
- (informal, intransitive) To hold a private conference.