Eskimo(redirected from Eskiimo)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
n. pl. Eskimo or Es·ki·mos
1. A member of any of a group of peoples inhabiting the Arctic coastal regions of North America and parts of Greenland and northeast Siberia. See Usage Note at Native American.
2. Any of the languages of the Eskimo peoples.
[French Esquimaux, possibly from Spanish esquimao, esquimal, from Montagnais ayashkimew, Micmac.]
Usage Note: Eskimo has long been criticized as an offensive term, and many Americans either avoid it or feel uncomfortable using it. In Canada, where Eskimo is especially frowned on, the only acceptable term is Inuit, and Americans have generally come to prefer this name too, knowing it to be a term of ethnic pride. But it is not always understood that Inuit cannot substitute for Eskimo in all cases, being restricted in proper usage to the Inuit-speaking peoples of Arctic Canada and parts of Greenland. In southwest Alaska and Arctic Siberia, where Inuit is not spoken, the comparable term is Yupik, which has not gained as wide a currency in English as Inuit. While use of these more specific terms is generally preferable when speaking of the appropriate linguistic group, none of them can be used of the Eskimoan peoples as a whole; the only inclusive term remains Eskimo. · The claim that Eskimo is offensive is often supported by citing a popular etymology tracing its origin to an Abenaki word meaning "eaters of raw meat." Though modern linguists speculate that the term may actually derive from a Montagnais word referring to the manner of lacing a snowshoe, the matter remains undecided, and meanwhile many English speakers have learned to perceive Eskimo as a derogatory term invented by outsiders in scornful reference to their neighbors' eating habits. See Usage Note at Inuit.
npl -mos or -mo
1. (Peoples) a member of a group of peoples inhabiting N Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and E Siberia, having a material culture adapted to an extremely cold climate
2. (Languages) the language of these peoples
3. (Languages) a family of languages that includes Eskimo and Aleut
adjFormer spelling: Esquimau
(Peoples) relating to, denoting, or characteristic of the Eskimos
[C18 from Algonquian Esquimawes]
Usage: Eskimo is considered by many to be offensive, and in North America the term Inuit is usually preferred. Inuit, however, can be accurately applied only to those Aboriginal peoples inhabiting parts of Northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland (as distinguished from those in Asia or the Aleutian Islands)
n., pl. -mos, (esp. collectively) -mo for 1.
1. a member of a people or group of peoples living on the coast and adjacent hinterland of arctic and subarctic regions from Greenland W through Canada and Alaska to extreme NE Siberia.
2. the group of related languages spoken by the Eskimos. Compare Inuit, Yupik.
[1575–85; earlier Esqimawe(s), appar. < French < Sp esquimao(s) < Montagnais (French sp.) aiachkimeou- a name for the Micmac, extended or transferred to the Labrador Eskimo; perhaps literally, snowshoe-netter]
usage: The term Eskimo has largely been supplanted by Inuit in Canada, and Inuit is used officially by the Canadian government. Many Inuit consider Eskimo derogatory, in part because the word was, erroneously, long thought to mean “eater of raw meat.” Nonetheless, Eskimo continues in use in all parts of the world, esp. in historical, archaeological, and cultural contexts. The term Native American is sometimes used to include Eskimo and Aleut peoples. See also Indian.
Switch to new thesaurus
|Noun||1.||Eskimo - a member of a people inhabiting the Arctic (northern Canada or Greenland or Alaska or eastern Siberia); the Algonquians called them Eskimo (`eaters of raw flesh') but they call themselves the Inuit (`the people')|
|2.||Eskimo - the language spoken by the Eskimo|