Definition of Ainu in English:



  • 1A member of an aboriginal people of Japan, physically distinct (with light skin color and round eyes) from the majority population.

    • ‘In the nineteenth century, the Ainu were displaced from the island of Hokkaido when the majority Japanese settled there.’
    • ‘He will also visit with the Ainu, indigenous people in northern Japan.’
    • ‘There are also two indigenous minority groups in Japan, the Ainu and the Burakumin.’
    • ‘The Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, are largely based in Hokkaido.’
    • ‘Its a recreated Ainu village, quite beautiful, but the mention of colonisation is glancing if mentioned, and Ainu are talked about in the past tense all the way through the museum.’
    • ‘Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands.’
    • ‘Here Japanese objects were presented alongside those of the Ainu, an indigenous community in northern Japan of distinctly non-Japanese linguistic and ethnic identity.’
    • ‘The earliest settlers according to archaeologists were a tribal people, the Ainu.’
    • ‘Other linguistic minorities include the Korean-Japanese and the Ainu.’
    • ‘The event is a fundraiser for Southern Cross University students, who are trying to raise funds for an intercultural exchange with the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan.’
    • ‘However, the author fails to mention whether the Japanese brought Buddhism or Confucianism to the Ainu.’
    • ‘But it's just kind of interesting that the Ainu, who are the original inhabitants of Japan, once spoke of there being seven stars in the sky, The Seven Sisters.’
  • 2The language of the Ainu people, of unknown affinity.

    • ‘Few people now speak Ainu as their primary language.’
    • ‘There are only a handful of native speakers of Ainu.’
    • ‘On Hokkaido Island in Japan, only eight elderly people were left that spoke the native tongue, Ainu, in the late 1980s.’
    • ‘Through wide-ranging schooling, generations of Ainu children grew up without the ability to speak Ainu anymore.’
    • ‘He wanted to study Ainu there and rented a Japanese house and lived with an Ainu from Sakhalin to learn Ainu.’


  • Relating to the Ainu or their language.

    • ‘He wants to learn about the Ainu minority.’
    • ‘Archaeologists believe that the early settlers of Japan, the Ainu people, used facial tattoos.’
    • ‘The hero, Otsam-Un-Kur, has been raised by his two beautiful sisters, who represent all that is valued in Ainu women.’
    • ‘Kamui-Chikap, in Ainu mythology, is the ‘God Bird’ who watches the people of the Earth from the branches of the tallest trees.’
    • ‘She spoke no Japanese, so he spoke Ainu words first, and grew up fluent in that dying language.’
    • ‘It was run by a member of the Ainu women's association of Hokkaido.’
    • ‘Part of the solution was to promote trade for food with the Ainu people on the northern island of Hokkaido (thus shifting some potential problems of resource depletion outside what was then Japan proper).’
    • ‘The spirit-sending festival, called i-omante, either for a bear or striped owl, was the most important Ainu festival.’
    • ‘This exhibition includes Ainu art which attracted great interest recently when exhibited in Europe.’
    • ‘Though other teachers had to fill him in on how many Hokkaido place names were Ainu names so he may not be the best source.’


Early 19th century: the name in Ainu, literally man, person.