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Syllabification: Es·ki·mo
Pronunciation: /ˈeskəˌmō

Definition of Eskimo in English:

noun (plural same or Eskimos)

1often (especially in Canada & Greenland) offensive A member of an indigenous people inhabiting northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and eastern Siberia, traditionally living by hunting (especially of seals) and by fishing.
Example sentences
  • Excluding the descendants of the native-born American Indians, Eskimos, and Hawaiians, every American is a descendent of immigrants.
  • Canoeing is one of the oldest forms of transport, used most notably by Eskimos and Native Americans, and is an ideal way to spend a recreational day on the river or sea.
  • For three years he managed a store for the Hudson's Bay Company in the Arctic Circle among the Inuit Eskimos and did not return to visit Britain until 1976.
2Either of the two main languages of the Eskimo people (Inuit and Yupik), forming a major division of the Eskimo-Aleut family.
Example sentences
  • Tony Woodbury reports that in the village of Chevak, Alaska, in 1978, almost everyone spoke Chup'ik, a dialect of Yup'ik Eskimo; by 1996 it had died out among schoolchildren.
  • To take what is the most frequently mentioned case, we can note the existence of several words in Eskimo to refer to ‘snow’ compared to only one in English.
  • When people try to make a list with snow words in Eskimo, they often include words for ice.


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Of or relating to the Eskimos or their languages.
Example sentences
  • All of these were transcribed in the original language of the Eskimo storytellers and then translated with the help of Eskimos who also spoke English.
  • The truth about snow words in the Eskimo languages simply doesn't matter.
  • My list is somewhat more reliable than that unchecked serial exaggeration of Eskimo snow vocabulary you hear so much about.


via French Esquimaux, possibly from Spanish esquimao, esquimal, from Montagnais ayas̆kimew 'person who laces a snowshoe', probably applied first to the Micmac and later to the Eskimo (see husky2).


1 In recent years, Eskimo has come to be regarded as offensive because of one of its possible etymologies (Abnaki askimoeater of raw meat’), but this descriptive name is accurate since Eskimos traditionally derived their vitamins from eating raw meat. This dictionary gives another possible etymology above, but the etymological problem is still unresolved. 2 The peoples inhabiting the regions from northwestern Canada to western Greenland call themselves Inuit (see Inuit (usage)), but in the US, Eskimo is the only term that can be properly applied to all of the peoples as a whole, and it is still widely used in anthropological and archaeological contexts. The broader term Native American is sometimes used to refer to Eskimo and Aleut peoples. See Native American (usage).

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