Languages Magazine

13 Unique English Words Resourced from Native-American Languages

By Tlb

English language has its origin from various other languages including the Anglo-Frisian influence and other more resources. Detailed by Wikipedia, it is a West Germanic language brought Britain to the western parts of Germany Netherlands.

english words from native american languages: Ketchican totem

Ketchican totem: Image by Jeremy Keith,via Wikimedia Commons

But according to Yahoo, a post updated by Oodles, one of the site’s contributors, there are some few English words that’s being recognized by the language that came from the Native Americans. Surely you will encounter it on your languages school as one of your lessons when you learn English language.


So, here are these 13 unique English words the author is pertaining to. Perhaps you might want to add them into your lists of vocabulary?


  • Toboggan

A which is long and flat-bottomed sled; Also, downward route or a steep decline; Derived from Algonquian.


  • Hackmatack

Another word for tamarack, which is a larch (a type of pine tree) tree in northern North America; May also refer to the wood of the tamarack (from Algonquian).


  • Kinkajou

This kinky animal is a nocturnal and omnivorous mammal that likes hopping around in trees. It is related to the raccoon (from Algonquian).


  • Pung

This is a special sleigh which is shaped like a box (from Algonquian).


  • Hogan

This is a Navajo dwelling, mainly made of mud and logs and with a door that usually faces east; unrelated to Hulk Hogan.


  • Wickiup

The nomadic Indians needed to make houses quickly. A wickiup was one great example – it was a hut with an oval base and a frame covered with grass, reed mats, or brushwood. This word can also refer to any makeshift shelter or hut (Algonquian).


  • Bayou

Down in Louisiana, this word is very familiar. Derived from Choctaw, this word can be either a creek or secondary watercourse that connects to a larger body of water; or any sluggish or marshy body of water.


  • Wapiti

This is the Shawnee word for elk, that huge, easy-going deer. It literally means “white rump.”


  • Muskeg

This Cree word has two meanings: either a bog(usually of the sphagnum variety), or a thicket deposit of half-rotten vegetable matter in wet northern forest areas.


  • Muskellunge

This is a large pike (a long-snouted bony fish) with dark markings, which is a serious game fish (Ojibwa).


  • Cheechako

This curious word is derived from Chinook and means tenderfoot (in the sense of being a novice to frontier life).


  • Potlatch

From Chinook, this is a ceremonial feast on the northwest coast. This feast features lavish distribution of gifts by the host. This word also can mean a general social event or party(mainly a Northwestern word).


  • Papoose

A young Native American child from Narraganset.

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