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Eskimo

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English

Etymology

First attested 1584. From Danish Eskimo, from French plural Esquimaux (possibly from Spanish esquimao or esquimal), from Montagnais ayas̆kimew. This was once thought to mean "eaters of raw meat", but most authorities now believe it signifies either "netters of snowshoes" (compare Ojibwe as̆kime (to net snowshoes)) or "speakers of a foreign language". The name was originally applied by the Innu people to the Mi'kmaq, and later transferred to the Labrador Inuit. See usage notes.

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /ˈɛs.kɪ.moʊ/
  • Hyphenation: Es‧kimo

Alternative spellings

Proper noun

Singular
Eskimo

Plural
-

Eskimo

  1. A group of peoples inhabiting the Arctic, from Siberia, through Alaska and Northern Canada, to Greenland, including the Inuit and Yupik.
  2. Any of several languages of the peoples of the same name.

Synonyms

Translations

Noun

Singular
Eskimo

Plural
Eskimo

Eskimo (Eskimo)
  1. A member of the Eskimo.

Translations

Adjective

Eskimo (comparative {{{1}}}, superlative {{{2}}})

Positive
Eskimo

Comparative
{{{1}}}

Superlative
{{{2}}}

  1. Of, or relating to the Eskimo or their language.

Derived terms

Translations

Usage notes

Eskimo has come to be considered offensive, especially in Canada. However, it remains an acceptable term for northern peoples in Alaska—including the Inuit Inupiat and the non-Inuit Yupik—and the only encompassing term for all of these Arctic peoples. It is also used worldwide by historians and archaeologists.

The name declined in use because it was thought to stem from a Cree pejorative meaning “eaters of raw meat” rather than from the Inuit people's name for themselves, but this etymology is now discredited (in fact, both the Cree and Inuit ate raw meat).

In Canada, Eskimo has been superseded by Inuit for the people, which name has official status, and Inuktitut for the language. The Inuit group of Canada's Western Arctic call themselves Inuvialuit. Greenland natives also call themselves Greenlanders or Kalaallit, and their language Greenlandic or Kalaallisut.

Also note that Eskimo does not include the related Aleut people (Unangam), nor the Indian or First Nations peoples of the Arctic.

References

  • Eskimo” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
  • “Eskimo” in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Eskimo” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • “Eskimo” in the The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2005
  • "Eskimo" in the Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, 2001
  • Eskimo” and “Origin of the name Eskimo” in Wikipedia

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