Definition of Algonquian in US English:


(also Algonkian)


  • Denoting, belonging to, or relating to a family of North American languages formerly spoken across a vast area from the Atlantic seaboard to the Great Lakes and the Great Plains.

    • ‘I might even learn a few words of the Algonquian language.’
    • ‘The company has announced the purchase of exclusive rights to the entire Algonquian language family, including such well-known tongues as Cheyenne, Cree, and Mohican, in a $1.6 billion dollar deal.’
    • ‘The Blackfoot Indians' Algonquian dialect is related to the languages of several Plains, Eastern Woodlands, and Great Lake region tribes.’
    • ‘This botany-based place naming practice also exists in other Algonquian languages and in other American Indian language families.’
    • ‘Some people have suggested that the phrase derives from the European and Algonquian name for the Delaware Indians, whose men would streak their faces and bodies with red ocher and blood-root.’


  • 1The Algonquian family of languages.

    • ‘In 1643 Eliot began to learn Algonquian.’
    • ‘Orange came from Arabic ‘naranj’ via Old French ‘or ange’; kiosk came from Turkish; moccasin came from Algonquian and so on.’
    • ‘This is a locative noun, which is a grammatical category used when creating names for places in Algonquian.’
    • ‘We examined the data for Algonquian as well as Siouan language groups.’
    • ‘The word is drawn from ototeman which roughly translates from Algonkian, one of the major languages of this region, as ‘he is my relative’.’
  • 2A speaker of any of the Algonquian languages.

    Algonquian is one of the largest groups of North American languages, including Abnaki, Mohegan, Pequot, Ojibwa, Cree, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Fox, Menomini, and Delaware. Although the Algonquian languages are today spoken from the east coast of North America to the Rockies, the speakers are few and several of the languages are endangered. Many English words have been adopted from these languages, e.g., moccasin, moose, and toboggan

    • ‘The Algonquians destroyed wolves and exchanged black wolf skins as ceremonial gifts, and the English seemed prepared to enter and expand this trade, offering native hunters cloth, corn, and ammunition in return for wolf heads.’
    • ‘Historically, there is no obvious comparable social development in the region among the two major cultural groups that would most likely have descended from these Early Late Woodland peoples: the Algonquians and Iroquoians.’
    • ‘When the first white explorers arrived in the early seventeenth century, they found the settled, agricultural society of the Iroquois a contrast to the nomadic culture of the neighboring Algonquians.’
    • ‘Among Algonquians, bear hunts were often associated with fasting, ritual, and feasting cycles timed to varying points of preparation, activation, and completion of the hunt.’
    • ‘His research helped debunk earlier notions that the Monacans and other Siouan groups were largely nomadic hunters and gatherers who occasionally raided coastal Algonquians.’


From Algonquin + -ian.