noun, plural man·i·tous, (especially collectively) man·i·tou.

(among the Algonquian Indians) a supernatural being that controls nature; a spirit, deity, or object that possesses supernatural power.

Also man·i·to [man-i-toh] /ˈmæn ɪˌtoʊ/, man·i·tu [man-i-too] /ˈmæn ɪˌtu/.

Origin of manitou

1605–15; < Unami Delaware monə́t·u, reinforced by or reborrowed from Ojibwa manito· and other cognates (all < Proto-Algonquian *maneto·wa); spelling influenced by equivalent French word Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for manitu

Historical Examples of manitu

  • If we say 'the totem animal,' we beg the question; we identify the totem with the manitu of the individual.

  • Distinguo: they are parts, not of the 'totem animal,' but of the adopted animal of the individual, often called his manitu.

  • But manitu is perhaps too wide and vague a term: it usually connotes anything mystical or supernormal.

  • To obtain the 'personal totem' (manitu) a youth must first listen to his elders.

  • Others supposed that all kinds of animals had their type in the world of souls, a manitu, which kept guard over them.

    Myth and Science

    Tito Vignoli

British Dictionary definitions for manitu


manitu manito (ˈmænɪˌtəʊ)

noun plural -tous, -tus, -tos, -tou, -tu or -to

(among the Algonquian Indians) a deified spirit or force

Word Origin for manitou

C17: from Algonquian; related to Ojibwa manito spirit
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 manitu



also manito, "spirit, deity, supernatural being," 1690s, from a word found throughout the Algonquian languages (cf. Delaware manutoow, Ojibwa manidoo), first in English from Unami Delaware /manet:u/.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper