Definition of Cherokee in US English:


nounPlural Cherokees

  • 1A member of a North American people originally of the southeastern US, now living on reservations in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

    • ‘The offspring of unions between Cherokees became members of their mother's clan.’
    • ‘North Carolina forced the Cherokees out onto the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.’
    • ‘Many Indians died when the United States army took the Cherokees to Oklahoma.’
    • ‘About one-quarter of the kids were Cherokees residing on a federal reservation.’
    • ‘Before European contact, the Cherokees practiced a gender-specific division of labor: women farmed and men hunted.’
  • 2The Iroquoian language of the Cherokee, which has had its own script since 1820 and has about 11,000 speakers.

    • ‘So I asked my friend in the dormitory about some sweet words in Cherokee.’
    • ‘So we were a literate people, therefore most of our mythology has been codified and has been written down, either in Cherokee or in Cherokee and then translated to English.’
    • ‘The Cherokees recorded their laws and constitution and translated the Bible and numerous other works into Cherokee.’
    • ‘It is used in the Indian churches and at the stomp grounds, and many children still grow up with Cherokee as their first language, learning English when they go to school.’
    • ‘In the 1820's the most impressive cultural change was made as an actual written language derived from the Cherokee spoken word was created.’


  • Relating to the Cherokee or their language.

    • ‘What I expect from this trip isn't much more than a few kitschy T-shirts, a cowboy hat, and perhaps a pair of authentic Cherokee moccasins.’
    • ‘The nation was overrun by refugees from the Creek and Cherokee nations, however, which were occupied by troops.’
    • ‘A Cherokee grandmother recited Crazy Horse's prophecy about these very times, as the Old Age closes.’
    • ‘For the first time since the race began, the colonel took down his glass and angrily addressed the Cherokee chief in his Indian language.’
    • ‘I am an 80-year-old Cherokee Indian, and what the white man has done to this country is unbelievable.’


From obsolete Cherokee tsaraki, earlier form of tsaliki.