[ es-kuh-moh ]

noun,plural Es·ki·mos, (especially collectively) Es·ki·mo for 1.
  1. Sometimes Offensive. a member of a group of Indigenous peoples of Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska, and northeastern Siberia.: See Usage note at the current entry.

  2. any of the languages of these peoples, divided into two branches: Inuit, spoken in Greenland, Canada, and northern Alaska, and Yupik, spoken in southern Alaska and Siberia.

  1. Sometimes Offensive. of or relating to a group of Indigenous peoples of Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska, and northeastern Siberia or their languages.

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Origin of Eskimo

First recorded in 1575–85; from earlier Esqimawe(s), apparently via French (of 16th-century Basque fishermen), from Spanish esquimao(s), from Montagnais (French spelling) aiachkimeou- a name for the Mi'kmaq, extended or transferred to the Labrador Eskimo among the eastern Montagnais; perhaps literally, “snowshoe-netter” (compare Ojibwe aškime· “to net snowshoes”); cf. husky2

usage note For Eskimo

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. Canadians, as well as many Americans (especially Indigenous Alaskans), consider Eskimo derogatory, in part because the word was, erroneously, long thought to mean literally “eater of raw meat.” Inuit , properly a more specific term referring to speakers of the Inuit language, has come to be used in a wider sense to name all people traditionally called Eskimo, regardless of local self-designations. Anthropologically, the term Native American is sometimes used to include these peoples, as well as the Aleuts. However, the term Indian, still commonly used for a number of Indigenous people of the Americas, is not applied to the Inuit, Yupik, and Aleut of Arctic North America.
Eskimo continues to be used in certain contexts, especially in historical and archaeological reference to these peoples as a cultural and linguistic group. However, broad use of Eskimo, as in marketing and branding, has largely been rejected, and products, sports teams, or companies that used the word in the past are finding new names.

Other words from Eskimo

  • Es·ki·mo·an, adjective
  • Es·ki·moid [es-kuh-moid], /ˈɛs kəˌmɔɪd/, adjective

Words Nearby Eskimo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Eskimo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Eskimo


/ (ˈɛskɪˌməʊ) /

  1. plural -mos or -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

  2. the language of these peoples

  1. a family of languages that includes Eskimo and Aleut

  1. relating to, denoting, or characteristic of the Eskimos

Origin of Eskimo

C18 from Algonquian Esquimawes
  • Former spelling: Esquimau

usage For Eskimo

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)

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