Definition of Indian in English:



  • 1Relating to the indigenous peoples of America.

    • ‘The top link of the food chain in this region belongs to the polar bears and the Inuit Indian people who are indigenous to this world of ice and cold.’
    • ‘For the Oneida Nation, Indian gaming is about self-sufficiency and concern for the seventh generation.’
    • ‘Much of the frontier became ‘civilized’ at the cost of shrinking Seminole lands and desecrating Indian burial mounds.’
    • ‘This Indian Territory was where eastern Indian tribes such as the Kickapoos, Delawares, and Shawnees lived.’
    • ‘The extent of nationalist mobilization also differs amongst the various Indian tribes in America.’
    • ‘Born at Shongopovi, Second Mesa, on the Hopi Indian reservation, Tewanima chased jackrabbits as a boy.’
    • ‘Ironically, as hard and grueling as this brutal old Indian game is, lacrosse retained a reputation as sort of polo without the ponies.’
    • ‘Batista has visited six tribes, sleeping in their housing eating meals with them and relaying to them the teachings of his Carib Indian grandmother.’
    • ‘He has witnessed weddings featuring lone pipers, ladies' choirs and even a Sioux Indian ceremony for an American couple wishing to reflect their roots.’
    • ‘The British never solved the problems that had caused the war, nor did they develop a consistent Indian policy for North America.’
    • ‘Richard Gott writes on the deepening rebellion sweeping through Latin America and the key role played by indigenous Indian peoples’
    • ‘The Cherokee War consisted of three campaigns from South Carolina against the Cherokee Indian nations.’
    • ‘Derick operated his first projector at the age of 10, and apart from 20 years as a bingo hall manager on the edge of Indian reservations in America, has been a slave to the silver screen.’
    • ‘Through Black Elk Speaks, the Great Vision helped stimulate a revival of Indian spirituality throughout North America.’
    • ‘As with most Indian tribes in North America the lives of the Apache were destroyed as their life-blood, the buffalo were slaughtered by the whites.’
    • ‘Much of the land along rivers above Klamath Lake was former Indian allotment land.’
    • ‘Both the Sumu and Miskito languages are derived from the Chibchan Indian language family of South America.’
    • ‘At their peak around 1492, the Indian population of North America had long been transforming the forest for agriculture and hunting.’
    • ‘Many were genre scenes showing everyday Indian life featuring teepees and mounted warriors in traditional costume.’
    • ‘There are two sources of native borrowing: the Canadian Indian languages such as Cree, Dene, and Ojibwa, and Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit or Eskimo.’
  • 2Relating to India or to the subcontinent comprising India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

    • ‘It is no coincidence that these countries are among the poorest on the planet and include Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Afghanistan and parts of the Indian sub-continent.’
    • ‘And it has endured; it is already specifically Indian and forms the basis of modern Indian culture.’
    • ‘Newspapers published by Indian communities flourish everywhere, and they invariably carry a section with matrimonial ads.’
    • ‘A spokesman for Pakistan further enraged Indian opinion by answering that India may have staged the attack upon itself.’
    • ‘Persia, now Iran, was once a vast empire stretching from Egypt and the Danube to the Indian sub-continent.’
    • ‘Bangladesh and Indian border troops exchanged fire Thursday for the second straight day as tension rose on the entire border of the two countries.’
    • ‘The exposition is the first one to take Indian designers to Pakistan.’
    • ‘And Muslim Pakistan still occupies Indian territory in Kashmir that it seized by force in 1948.’
    • ‘Such a struggle will find a powerful response from the urban and rural masses in Sri Lanka, in the Indian sub-continent as a whole and internationally.’
    • ‘The families of many of the Asian youth who were involved in the disturbances had originally come to the UK from the Indian sub-continent to work in the mills.’
    • ‘The city's large Asian population makes it is easier to integrate refugees from the Indian sub-continent including Pakistan and Bangladesh.’
    • ‘It does not, however, seem to have come out of the Indian sub-continent, where so many Greek, Latin, European and Slavonic words are sourced.’
    • ‘This pressure led the police to deport even Indian nationals to Bangladesh.’
    • ‘That vast country has over a million troops on the ready after rebels thought to be from Pakistan attacked an Indian army camp in Kashmir.’
    • ‘Is the idea that this may become a breakthrough for Indian film in America, dragging India's Bollywood film culture into modern day?’
    • ‘Pakistan described the Indian proposal as old and unworkable.’
    • ‘There is never a dull moment in the great Indian sub-continent, is there?’
    • ‘Despite fears of a war, many observers believe, however, that a concerted Indian attack on Pakistan is unlikely.’
    • ‘In this context, it is critical to review the bitter experience of the masses in the Indian sub-continent, particularly in India and Sri Lanka.’
    • ‘After the success of its gridiron coverage, Channel 4 turned its attentions to the subcontinent and the ancient Indian discipline kabaddi.’


  • 1An American Indian.

    • ‘When I learned that my great-grandmother was an Onondaga Indian, I studied everything I could about the Iroquois.’
    • ‘The rest of its people are Indians, mainly Quechua and Aymara who are subsistence farmers in the mountains.’
    • ‘Among Dominicans of African and European decent, Carib Indians maintain their own culture.’
    • ‘Helianthus was first grown by the Aztec Indians who worshipped it, ate it, and decorated their wigwams with it.’
    • ‘The Carib Indians who defeated the Arawaks also considered Qualibou a special place.’
    • ‘The Arawak Indians are the people first known to inhabit French Guiana.’
    • ‘This battle involved the U.S.A. army against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians.’
    • ‘Yet again Hollywood exploits another massacre, that of the Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee.’
    • ‘There are similar accounts in Hindi myth, in the Norse sagas, and even among the Hopi Indians of Latin America.’
    • ‘The practice of smoking tobacco came from the native American Indians and the Carib Indians of Tobago.’
    • ‘The cliff palace dwellings built by the Anasazi Indians are awe-inspiring.’
    • ‘Pima Indians living in Arizona have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world.’
    • ‘How many Americans know that Seminole Indians and runaway black slaves formed an alliance in Florida?’
    • ‘The war began when some Seminole Indians refused to leave Florida, defying the Removal Act.’
    • ‘They'd apply it to a Quechua Indian who doesn't speak Spanish.’
    • ‘To the Quechua Indians, respect must be given to Pachamama, the Incan earth mother.’
    • ‘The fans in England don't realize he's a Cree Indian from North America.’
    • ‘They were cut to pieces by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians in a battle that has assumed legendary proportions.’
    • ‘Before the Spaniards arrived, Arawak Indians farmed and hunted Cuba's fertile lands.’
    • ‘So what did this young scientist find from his observations of the Navajo Indians?’
  • 2A native or inhabitant of India, or a person of Indian descent.

    • ‘There is also the massive and growing presence of Indians and persons of Indian origin at Harvard.’
    • ‘By language we are Tamils, by race Dravidians and by nationality Indians.’
    • ‘However, there might be differences in this phenotype between immigrant and native Asian Indians.’
    • ‘The Indians, Burmese and Siamese all worshiped the snake as a demon who also had good aspects.’
    • ‘After all I thought that just as India was for Indians so were Indians for India!’
    • ‘The second main group were foreign nationals; Indians, Singapore Chinese, Africans and others.’
    • ‘Gandhi encouraged Indians to boycott British goods and buy Indian goods instead.’
    • ‘I looked about me, aware that there were very few Westerners on the flight in comparison to Indians and other nationalities.’
    • ‘Pioneer Indian or Egyptian nationalists, Pan-Africanists, and Pan-Arabists raged against the European empires which ruled their lives.’
    • ‘Native Indians and nationalism, the subjects of these two books, are both topics highly relevant to globalisation.’
    • ‘It is not being extended to all Indians who are foreign nationals living in all parts of the world.’
    • ‘And there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Indians passed on their discoveries to mathematically knowledgeable Jesuit missionaries who visited India during the fifteenth century.’
    • ‘An irate listener called in to say that we were Indians because we were a special people descended from Lord Shiva.’
    • ‘It is virtually a global issue and more prevalent in the South East Asian nations and wherever Indians live.’
    • ‘It was crude demagogy, browbeating nationalists and Indians through Kashmiriyat.’
    • ‘It is, for Indians, their most significant national monument; one they will travel great distances to see.’


Indian, meaning ‘native of America before the arrival of Europeans,’ is objected to by many who now favor Native American. There are others (including many members of these ethnic groups), however, who see nothing wrong with Indian or American Indian, which are long-established terms, although the preference where possible is to refer to specific peoples, as Apache, Delaware, and so on. The terms Amerind and Amerindian, once proposed as alternatives to Indian, are used in linguistics and anthropology, but have never gained widespread use. Newer alternatives, not widely used or established, include First Nation (especially in Canada) and the more generic aboriginal peoples. It should be noted that Indian is held by many not to include some American groups—for example, Aleuts and Eskimos. A further consideration is that Indian also (and in some contexts, primarily) refers to inhabitants of India or their descendants, who may be referred to as ‘Asian Indians’ to prevent misunderstanding. See also American Indian