wampum

[ wom-puh m, wawm- ]
/ ˈwɒm pəm, ˈwɔm- /

noun

Also called peag, seawan, sewan. cylindrical beads made from shells, pierced and strung, used by North American Indians as a medium of exchange, for ornaments, and for ceremonial and sometimes spiritual purposes, especially such beads when white but also including the more valuable black or dark-purple varieties.
Informal. money.

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Origin of wampum

First recorded in 1630–40; short for wampumpeag

Words nearby wampum

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for wampum

British Dictionary definitions for wampum

wampum
/ (ˈwɒmpəm) /

noun

(formerly) money used by North American Indians, made of cylindrical shells strung or woven together, esp white shells rather than the more valuable black or purple ones
US and Canadian informal money or wealth
Also called: peag, peage

Word Origin for wampum

C17: short for wampumpeag, from Narraganset wampompeag, from wampan light + api string + -ag plural suffix
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

Cultural definitions for wampum

wampum
[ (wahm-puhm) ]

Beads made from polished shells that some Native Americans once used as money and jewelry.

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.