Eskimo

[es-kuh-moh]
noun, plural Es·ki·mos, (especially collectively) Es·ki·mo for 1.
  1. a member of an indigenous people of Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska, and northeastern Siberia, characterized by short, stocky build and light-brown complexion.
  2. either of two related languages spoken by the Eskimos, one in Greenland, Canada, and northern Alaska, the other in southern Alaska and Siberia.
Compare Inuit, Yupik.

Origin of Eskimo

1575–85; < earlier Esqimawe(s), apparently via French (of 16th-century Basque fishermen) < Spanish esquimao(s) < Montagnais (French spelling) aiachkimeou- a name for the Micmac, extended or transferred to the Labrador Eskimo among the eastern Montagnais; perhaps literally, snowshoe-netter (compare Ojibwa aškime· to net snowshoes); cf. husky3
Related formsEs·ki·mo·an, adjectiveEs·ki·moid [es-kuh-moid] /ˈɛs kəˌmɔɪd/, adjectivepro-Es·ki·mo, adjective, noun, plural pro-Es·ki·mos, pro-Es·ki·mo.

Usage note

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. Many Inuit consider Eskimo derogatory, in part because the word was, erroneously, long thought to mean literally “eater of raw meat.” Inuit has also come to be used in a wider sense, to name all people traditionally called Eskimo, regardless of local self-designations. Nonetheless, Eskimo continues in use in all parts of the world, especially in historical and archaeological contexts and in reference to the people as a cultural and linguistic unity. The term Native American is sometimes used to include Eskimo and Aleut peoples. See also Indian.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for eskimos

Eskimo

noun
  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
  3. a family of languages that includes Eskimo and Aleut
adjective
  1. relating to, denoting, or characteristic of the Eskimos
Former spelling: Esquimau
See also Inuit, Inuktitut

Word Origin for Eskimo

C18 from Algonquian Esquimawes

usage

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

Word Origin and History for eskimos

Eskimo

n.

1580s, from Danish Eskimo or Middle French Esquimaux (plural), both probably from an Algonquian word, such as Abenaki askimo (plural askimoak), Ojibwa ashkimeq, traditionally said to mean literally "eaters of raw meat," from Proto-Algonquian *ask- "raw" + *-imo "eat." Research from 1980s in linguistics of the region suggests this derivation, though widely credited there, might be inaccurate or incomplete, and the word might mean "snowshoe-netter." Cf. also Innuit. Eskimo pie "chocolate-coated ice cream bar" introduced 1921.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

eskimos in Culture

Eskimos

A widely dispersed group of peoples in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia, who have traditionally survived primarily by hunting and fishing. Despite the isolation of Eskimo communities, the Eskimos display a strong cultural, racial, and linguistic unity. Many Eskimos, especially those in Canada, prefer the name Inuit.

Note

Most people picture isolated Eskimos living in igloos and driving dogsleds; however, contact with outsiders has resulted in adoption of permanent housing settlements, snowmobiles and motorboats, and modern hunting equipment.

Note

Christianity has replaced many traditional religious beliefs. Efforts by federal governments to incorporate Eskimo societies have included establishment of schools in Eskimo communities and opportunities to participate in the larger government and economy.
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.