1. one of the original or earliest known inhabitants of a country or region.
  2. (initial capital letter) Also Aboriginal. Also called Australian Aborigine. a member of the people who were the earliest inhabitants of Australia.
  3. aborigines, the original, native fauna or flora of a region.

Origin of aborigine

1540–50; by back formation from aborigines < Latin Aborīginēs the pre-Roman inhabitants of Italy, probably alteration of an earlier ethnonym by association with ab origine
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for aborigines

primitive, aboriginal, native, autochthon, bushman, indigene

Examples from the Web for aborigines

Historical Examples of aborigines

  • Then there were many and long battles and the aborigines were beaten many times.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • The aborigines all want to know what is going to be done for them.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • This just to show the extreme independence of the aborigines.

  • What were the picture-writings of the aborigines but early examples of art?

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • The condition of our own Western tribes of aborigines is, in comparison, one of luxury.

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

British Dictionary definitions for aborigines


  1. an original inhabitant of a country or region who has been there from the earliest known times

Word Origin for aborigine

C16: back formation from aborigines, from Latin: inhabitants of Latium in pre-Roman times, probably representing some tribal name but associated in folk etymology with ab origine from the beginning


  1. Also called: Aboriginal a member of the indigenous people who were living in Australia when European settlers arrived
  2. any of the languages of this peopleSee also Australian (def. 3)
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

Word Origin and History for aborigines



1858, mistaken singular of aborigines (1540s; the correct singular is aboriginal), from Latin Aborigines "the first ancestors of the Romans; the first inhabitants" (especially of Latium), possibly a tribal name, or from ab origine, literally "from the beginning." Extended 1789 to natives of other countries which Europeans have colonized. Australian slang shortening Abo attested from 1922.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

aborigines in Culture



The earliest known inhabitants of a region. The term is most often associated with the native hunting and gathering population of Australia, who preceded the arrival of white settlers. (See hunting and gathering societies.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.