Definition of Arawakan in US English:



  • 1Relating to the Arawak people.

    • ‘Many communities still speak Arawakan languages in Brazil, and other Arawakan speakers are found in areas such as Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname.’
    • ‘Columbus had called the Northern Islanders, Taíno, from the Arawakan word for ‘friendly people’ as contrasted by the hostile Carib.’
    • ‘Many Arawakan languages are now extinct, but a few survive in the former heartland region of the Amazon-Orinoco.’
    • ‘Far from being congealed in time, Arawakan sacred landscapes are cultural processes and, as such, are continually under construction.’
    • ‘Other Arawakan peoples on the South American mainland were also matrilineal, from Surinam to eastern Peru.’
  • 2Denoting or belonging to a widely scattered family of languages spoken by the Arawak, most of which are now extinct or nearly so.

    • ‘Fanning out from Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti/Dominican Republic), Spaniards enslaved Arawakan and Taino-speaking ‘Indians ‘for mining and agricultural enterprises.’’
    • ‘This Karinya influence comes as a result of interaction between original speakers of an Arawakan language living in the Lesser Antilles and incoming Karina from South America.’
    • ‘The group is in the Arawakan linguistic family.’


  • The Arawakan family of languages.

    • ‘The Tupí-Guaraní family of languages is next to the Arawakan in geographical extent.’
    • ‘Rouse suggests that Arawakan and Cariban are more useful designations for these linguistic stocks.’
    • ‘Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, the native population spoke languages belonging to at least four major language families: Arawakan, Gê, Carib, and Tupi-Guarani.’