[ skwaw ]

  1. Older Use: Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian woman, especially a wife.

  2. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.

    • a contemptuous term used to refer to a wife.

    • a contemptuous term used to refer to any woman or girl.

Origin of squaw

An Americanism dating back to 1625–35; from Massachusett (English spelling) squa, ussqua “woman, younger woman,” from Proto-Algonquian eθkwe·wa (unattested)

usage note For squaw

It can be very offensive when members of the dominant culture appropriate piecemeal bits of language to imitate or perform impressions of an ethnic or racial minority. Borrowed words like firewater, squaw, and wigwam, or imitative words like how were once used for comedic effect, but they are now considered insensitive to Native Americans and their cultures.

Words Nearby squaw

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use squaw in a sentence

  • At this the chief laughed and said, "Tonka squaw" meaning brave woman and they left.

  • This occasioned great mirth among the rest of the Indians who all exclaimed, "Tonka squaw" and looked at her admiringly.

  • It is said that the squaw camped there while her hunter husband went further up the slopes for his game.

    Mount Rainier | Various
  • The chain and tackle also simplified the work for Hepsy, but we cant say as much of the hauling an Indian squaw has to do.

    Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp | Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • "squaw—papoose—sick," he added, as a last appeal to sympathy.

    Told In The Hills | Marah Ellis Ryan

British Dictionary definitions for squaw


/ (skwɔː) /

  1. offensive a North American Indian woman

  2. slang, usually facetious a woman or wife

Origin of squaw

C17: of Algonquian origin; compare Natick squa female creature

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