Definition of Kwakiutl in US English:



  • 1A member of a North American people of the northwestern Pacific coast, living mainly on Vancouver Island.

    • ‘The Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest believed that their nation descended from four wolves that survived a great flood, before shedding their skins to become human.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most familiar example of a gift culture is that of the native Americans of the Pacific Northwest such as the Kwakiutl and their famous potlatch ceremonies.’
    • ‘The Kwakiutl gave it another, opposing and peripheral meaning.’
    • ‘The next time I accidentally get stuck in Lincoln Center sitting through all 18 hours of Wagner's Ring Cycle, I could thank my studies of the Kwakiutl for making it seem pleasant by comparison.’
    • ‘It was in 1930, when Boas was 70 years old, that he returned to the site of his earlier studies among the Kwakiutl with a motion picture camera and wax cylinder sound recording machine.’
  • 2The Wakashan language of the Kwakiutl.


  • Relating to the Kwakiutl or their language.

    • ‘In the last chapter we saw anthropologist James Clifford's description of how various museums in the Canadian northwest provide different interpretations and assessments of Kwakiutl art through their displays.’
    • ‘Many cultures - the Kwakiutl Indians, Heiltsuk, and Bellacoola, among others - mark each stage of life with a new identity, a new name, and new relationships to the clan.’
    • ‘These are the Kwakiutl totem-pole colors that I grew up with.’
    • ‘To that end, Mauss studied the Kwakiutl culture of British Columbia, whose chiefs used to brag to other chiefs, that they could give away more nice things than anyone else.’
    • ‘Among the Kwakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest, chiefs sought higher status by sponsoring ‘potlatches,’ feasts in which they gave away or even destroyed food, blankets, canoes, and other precious possessions.’


The name in Kwakiutl.