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[wom-puh m, wawm-] /ˈwɒm pəm, ˈwɔm-/
Also called peag, seawan, sewan. cylindrical beads made from shells, pierced and strung, used by North American Indians as a medium of exchange, for ornaments, and for ceremonial and sometimes spiritual purposes, especially such beads when white but also including the more valuable black or dark-purple varieties.
Informal. money.
Origin of wampum
First recorded in 1630-40; short for wampumpeag Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for wampum


(formerly) money used by North American Indians, made of cylindrical shells strung or woven together, esp white shells rather than the more valuable black or purple ones
(US & Canadian, informal) money or wealth
Also called peag, peage
Word Origin
C17: short for wampumpeag, from Narraganset wampompeag, from wampan light + api string + -ag plural suffix
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 wampum

1630s, shortened from wampumpeag (1620s), from Algonquian (probably Narragansett) wanpanpiak "string of white (shell beads)," from wab "white" + ompe "string" + plural suffix -ag.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wampum in Culture
wampum [(wahm-puhm)]

Beads made from polished shells that some Native Americans once used as money and jewelry.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for wampum



Money; cash; bread

[1897+; short for Algonquian wampumpeag, ''beads made from quahog shells and used as money'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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