• synonyms


or pem·i·can

[pem-i-kuh n]
  1. dried meat pounded into a powder and mixed with hot fat and dried fruits or berries, pressed into a loaf or into small cakes, originally prepared by North American Indians.
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Origin of pemmican

1735–45; < Cree pimihka·n, derivative of pimihke·w he makes pemmican (mixing together the grease and other ingredients), he makes grease < Proto-Algonquian *pemihke·wa, equivalent to *pemy- grease + *-ehke· make
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pemmican

Historical Examples

  • Pemmican was in plenty, and the redmen kept the hunting-grounds in peace.

    The Fiery Totem

    Argyll Saxby

  • On the pemmican which they made from these buffaloes they depended for their winter's food.

    Old Fort Snelling

    Marcus L. Hansen

  • They picked up all the pemmican and biscuit that was still eatable.

  • Some remains of food were drawn out, and a case a quarter full of pemmican.

  • Pemmican was also made by drying the meat and pulverizing it.

British Dictionary definitions for pemmican



  1. a small pressed cake of shredded dried meat, pounded into paste with fat and berries or dried fruits, used originally by American Indians and now chiefly for emergency rations
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Word Origin

C19: from Cree pimikân, from pimii fat, grease
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 pemmican


1791, from Cree (Algonquian) /pimihka:n/ from /pimihke:w/ "he makes grease," from pimiy "grease, fat." Lean meat, dried, pounded and mixed with congealed fat and ground berries and formed into cakes used on long journeys. Also used figuratively for "extremely condensed thought or matter."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper