What Are Some Common Native American Words and Their Meanings?


Quick Answer

Some common Native American words are tomahawk, moccasin, and tepee, which are terms that indicate a type of axe, a type of shoe and a type of structure, respectively. Unlike other Native American words that have been assimilated into the English language, the indigenous roots of these words are still present in their modern-day forms.

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Full Answer

Tomahawk is a Native American word descended from the language of the Virginia Algonquian tribe. The word tomahawk refers to a lightweight axe used traditionally by American Indians as a weapon or tool. The instrument is sometimes decorated with feathers tied underneath its head.

Moccasin is another Native American word with Virginia Algonquian roots. Though moccasins have undergone many stylistic changes over the years, the term originally referred to a heelless, leather shoe with a long sole brought up over the toe and secured to the top of the foot by a piece of U-shaped leather. Other versions are hard-soled and decorated with beads.

Another common Native American word is tepee, which came from the Sioux language. A tepee is a type of tent that American Indians used to live in, specifically in the Dakota area. A tepee a cone-shaped frame of poles covered with animal skins. The structure also has an opening at the top for ventilation and a flap for a door. The first part of the word tepee comes from the Sioux word for dwell, while the second part came from the Sioux word meaning "used for."

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