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[es-kuh-moh] /ˈɛs kəˌmoʊ/
noun, plural Eskimos (especially collectively) Eskimo for 1.
a member of an indigenous people of Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska, and northeastern Siberia, characterized by short, stocky build and light-brown complexion.
either of two related languages spoken by the Eskimos, one in Greenland, Canada, and northern Alaska, the other in southern Alaska and Siberia.
Compare Inuit, Yupik.
Origin of Eskimo
1575-85; < earlier Esqimawe(s), apparently via French (of 16th-century Basque fishermen) < Spanish esquimao(s) < Montagnais (French spelling) aiachkimeou- a name for the Micmac, extended or transferred to the Labrador Eskimo among the eastern Montagnais; perhaps literally, snowshoe-netter (compare Ojibwa aškime· to net snowshoes); cf. husky3
Related forms
Eskimoan, adjective
[es-kuh-moid] /ˈɛs kəˌmɔɪd/ (Show IPA),
pro-Eskimo, adjective, noun, plural pro-Eskimos, pro-Eskimo.
Usage note
The name Inuit, by which the native people of the Arctic from northern Alaska to western Greenland call themselves, has largely supplanted Eskimo in Canada and is used officially by the Canadian government. Many Inuit consider Eskimo derogatory, in part because the word was, erroneously, long thought to mean literally “eater of raw meat.” Inuit has also come to be used in a wider sense, to name all people traditionally called Eskimo, regardless of local self-designations. Nonetheless, Eskimo continues in use in all parts of the world, especially in historical and archaeological contexts and in reference to the people as a cultural and linguistic unity. The term Native American is sometimes used to include Eskimo and Aleut peoples. See also Indian. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Eskimo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Further inquiries showed that both the ships had been seen and visited by the Eskimo while they were yet in the ice.

  • The Eskimo have no civil organization outside of the family.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • These are of Eskimo make, and not generally obtainable though they may be purchased in Newfoundland.

    Packing and Portaging Dillon Wallace
  • Among the Eskimo the heroine is vaguely referred to as a sea-fowl.

    The Science of Fairy Tales Edwin Sidney Hartland
  • Three days had passed since they arrived at the Eskimo camp.

    Johnny Longbow Roy J. Snell
  • The Eskimo hero is conveyed to his wife on a salmon's tail (Rink, p. 145).

    The Science of Fairy Tales Edwin Sidney Hartland
  • The skins come off, all by themselves, already chewed—as nice and soft as can be, fit to make a bed for an Eskimo baby.

British Dictionary definitions for Eskimo


(pl) -mos, -mo. 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
the language of these peoples
a family of languages that includes Eskimo and Aleut
relating to, denoting, or characteristic of the Eskimos
See also Inuit, Inuktitut
Former spelling Esquimau
Usage note
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)
Word Origin
C18 from Algonquian Esquimawes
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Eskimo

1580s, from Danish Eskimo or Middle French Esquimaux (plural), both probably from an Algonquian word, such as Abenaki askimo (plural askimoak), Ojibwa ashkimeq, traditionally said to mean literally "eaters of raw meat," from Proto-Algonquian *ask- "raw" + *-imo "eat." Research from 1980s in linguistics of the region suggests this derivation, though widely credited there, might be inaccurate or incomplete, and the word might mean "snowshoe-netter." Cf. also Innuit. Eskimo pie "chocolate-coated ice cream bar" introduced 1921.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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