• synonyms


[ath-uh-bas-kuh n]
  1. a family of languages spoken by American Indians in most of inland northwest Canada and Alaska, in coastal Oregon and California, and in Arizona and the Rio Grande basin, and including especially Navajo, Apache, and Chipewyan.Compare family(def 14).
  2. a member of any of various American Indian peoples speaking Athabaskan.
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  1. belonging to or characteristic of the Athabaskans.
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Also Ath·a·bas·can, Athapaskan, Athapascan.

Origin of Athabaskan

1770–80; earlier Athapasca(s), introduced as a term for the Canadian Athabaskans (< Woods Cree ahδapaska·w Lake Athabaska, literally, there are reeds here and there < Proto-Algonquian *aʔlap(y)- net, reticulated + *-ašk- plant + derivational elements) + -an


or Ath·a·pas·can

[ath-uh-pas-kuh n]
noun, adjective
  1. Athabaskan.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for athapascan

Historical Examples of athapascan

  • The Athapascan tribes to the east show intermediate cultures.

    Man, Past and Present

    Agustus Henry Keane

  • This tribe, however, has since been ascertained to be Athapascan.

  • Of these Athapascan peoples it has been written, "They are nearer the brutes than probably any other portion of the human race."

    The American Egypt

    Channing Arnold

  • Merriam deviated from Kroeber very widely in his tribal names for the Athapascan groups.

  • For the three remaining northern Athapascan tribes we possess very little data of a strictly ethnographic character.

British Dictionary definitions for athapascan


Athapaskan Athabascan or Athabaskan (ˌæθəˈbæskən)

  1. a group of North American Indian languages belonging to the Na-Dene phylum, including Apache and Navaho
  2. a speaker of one of these languages
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Word Origin for Athapascan

from Cree athapaskaaw scattered grass or reeds
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