See more synonyms for powwow on Thesaurus.com
  1. a large gathering organized by North American Indians for socializing, dancing, singing, and celebrating their culture.
  2. a council or conference of or with North American Indians.
  3. (historically, among North American Indians) a ceremony accompanied by spiritual, religious, and ritual practices, along with dancing, performed for the cure of disease, success in a hunt, etc.
  4. (among North American Indians) a priest or shaman.
  5. Informal. any conference or meeting.
verb (used without object)
  1. to hold a powwow.
  2. Informal. to confer.

Origin of powwow

1615–25, Americanism; < Narragansett (E spelling) powwaw Indian priest (and the identical word in Massachusett) < Proto-Algonquian *pawe·wa he dreams (used as a derived agent noun meaning “he who dreams”, i.e., one who derives his power from visions)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for powwow

Contemporary Examples of powwow

  • So we organized and pressured Jeffrey Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal, for a powwow.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Year in Sexism

    Amy Siskind

    December 17, 2009

Historical Examples of powwow

British Dictionary definitions for powwow


  1. a talk, conference, or meeting
  2. a magical ceremony of certain North American Indians, usually accompanied by feasting and dancing
  3. (among certain North American Indians) a medicine man
  4. a meeting of or negotiation with North American Indians
  1. (intr) to hold a powwow

Word Origin for powwow

C17: from Algonquian; related to Natick pauwau one who practises magic, Narraganset powwaw
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 powwow

1620s, "priest, sorcerer," from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Narragansett) powwaw "shaman, medicine man, Indian priest," from a verb meaning "to use divination, to dream," from Proto-Algonquian *pawe:wa "he dreams, one who dreams." Meaning "magical ceremony among North American Indians" is recorded from 1660s. Sense of "council, conference, meeting" is first recorded 1812. Verb sense of "to confer, discuss" is attested from 1780.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper