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[al-gong-kee-uh n, -kwee-uh n]
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noun, plural Al·gon·qui·ans, (especially collectively) Al·gon·qui·an for 2.
  1. a family of languages spoken now or formerly by American Indians in an area extending from Labrador westward to the Rocky Mountains, west-southwestward through Michigan and Illinois, and southwestward along the Atlantic coast to Cape Hatteras, including especially Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree, Fox, Massachusett, Micmac, Ojibwa, and Powhatan.Compare family(def 14).
  2. a member of an Algonquian-speaking tribe.
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  1. of or relating to Algonquian or its speakers.
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Origin of Algonquian

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; Algonqui(n) + -an
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for algonquian



  1. a family of North American Indian languages whose speakers ranged over an area stretching from the Atlantic between Newfoundland and Delaware to the Rocky Mountains, including Micmac, Mahican, Ojibwa, Fox, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, and Shawnee. Some linguists relate it to Muskogean in a Macro-Algonquian phylum
  2. plural -ans or -an a member of any of the North American Indian peoples that speak one of these languages
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  1. denoting, belonging to, or relating to this linguistic family or its speakers
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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 algonquian


1885, an ethnologist's word, modified from Algonquin + -ian. Both forms of the name have been used as adjectives and nouns.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper