Definition of Athabaskan in English:


Line breaks: Atha|bas¦kan
Pronunciation: /ˌaθəˈbask(ə)n
(also Athapaskan)


Denoting or relating to a family of North American Indian languages, including a southern group of which the most important are Navajo and Apache, and a northern group in Alaska and the Canadian North-West, many of which are now rare or extinct.
More example sentences
  • Other languages with similar devices to mark topic object include Wichita, Pawnee, Tlingit, and some Athapaskan languages such as Navajo and Schaptin.
  • I enjoyed the warmth of the hospitality in isolated Athabaskan Indian and Inuit communities.
  • The Navajo language belongs to the Athapaskan language family that is spoken from beyond the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Canada to the southwestern United States.


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1 [mass noun] The Athabaskan family of languages, sometimes classified in the Na-Dene phylum.
More example sentences
  • The ‘keepers of the language’ should be the language family - Algonquin, Athapaskan, Eskimo-Aleut, Haida, Iroquoian, Hutenai, Salishan, Siouan, Tlingit, Wakashan.
2A speaker of any of the Athabaskan languages.
More example sentences
  • They also share some cultural similarity with the Athabaskan, with whom the Tlingit have interacted and traded for centuries.
  • Ron Scollon and Suzanne Scollon found that the personal ‘display’ required in argumentative writing was culturally inappropriate for the Athabaskan of Alaska, a tribe related to the Dene.


from Athabasca, the name of a lake in western Canada, from Cree Athap-askaw 'grass and reeds here and there', + -an.

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