Native American Words

A large number of Native American words have entered the English vocabulary. These words were gradually absorbed by the early European settlers and colonists in the Americas.

After the creation of USA, the Americans came into more frequent interaction with the Native American tribes. This brought many new Native Indian words into the English language.

Some of the most popular words with Native American origins are listed below.

– Powwow: Powwow is often used to denote a meeting or conference. This world originally comes from the Algonquian language. In Algonquian, the word is used to refer to a ceremony where the members of a tribe meet and celebrate by dancing, feasting and other activities.

– Tipi: Tipi is frequently used by the English speakers in USA to mean a conical house or dwelling space. The word is derived from the Native American homes that were shaped like cones. These homes were popularly used by the Plains Native Americans and called teepees which mean ‘to dwell’ in the language of the Dakota.

– Barbacoa: Barbacoa is the word that probably became barbecue. This word was used by the Taino Indians. It referred to a wooden structure raised above the ground on which the Indians stored and dried meats. The Spanish adopted this word into their language and it eventually entered the English language as barbecue.

– Chocolatl: Chocolatl is a word from the Nahuatl language. In Nahuatl, chocolatl means ‘food prepared from cocoa seeds’. When Spanish came into the Americas, they liked the chocolate prepared by the Native Indians. So they adopted the food as well as the name which eventually became chocolate.

– Coyotl: Coyotl is another word from the Nahuatl language which was slightly modified and then adopted into the English language. Once adopted, it became coyote.

– Yaguara: Yaguara is a word used in the Native American Tupian language. The term means ‘beast of prey’ or ‘he who kills with one leap’. This word was modified into jaguar and is today a part of the English vocabulary.

– Pira Sainha: ‘Pira’ is a Tupi word which means ‘fish’. Sainha is another Tupi word which means ‘tooth’. So Pira Sainha translates into ‘Fish with teeth’. The term was eventually adopted into Portuguese and then became a part of English as ‘piranha’.

– Batata: Batata means ‘sweet potato’ in the Native American Taino language. This word was coupled with the Native American word ‘papa’ which means ‘potato’. The two were combined and adopted by the Spanish as ‘patata’. This eventually morphed into potato and became a commonly used term in English.

– Kansa: Kansa means ‘south’ in the language of the Kansa tribe. The name of the state of Kansas was derived from this word. The state was historically the home of the Kansa people.

– Massachuset: Massachuset were one of the Native Indian tribes living in the Greater Boston region, where many of them still live today. Their name Massachuset means ‘by the hill’. This name was eventually adopted to name the state of Massachusetts.

Native American Word Search Paperback – April 22, 2016