Definition of Lapp in US English:



  • 1A member of an indigenous people of far northern Scandinavia, traditionally associated with the herding of reindeer.

    • ‘It stretches from the sunbelt of the Mediterranean to the land of the Lapps and it is held together by high-speed trains and low-cost airlines.’
    • ‘Was this the result of ‘transhumance’ societies akin to the Lapps following reindeer into the northern tundra?’
    • ‘The Lapps (or Sami, as they call themselves) are traditionally an itinerant people, wandering the most northerly reaches of Scandinavia.’
    • ‘Summer in Lapland in Finland's far north is short, brisk and wild with new birth and rapid blossoming displaying Nature's power to provide relief and sustenance to the Finnish Lapps as they prepare for another long winter.’
    • ‘A hardy race related to the Lapps and the Eskimos, they were loathe to release their traditional lands to the newcomers.’
    • ‘With the exception of the Lapps - and perhaps the Basques, they might argue - Europe apparently has no indigenous peoples.’
    • ‘They had no more control over what he intended than ‘if they were Lapps or Tatars’.’
    • ‘The Finns arrived in their present territory thousands of years ago, pushing the indigenous Lapps into the more remote northern regions.’
    • ‘Raivio, a Lapp, had fought the Russians in Finland and escaped to America as a ship's crew member.’
    • ‘A parliament building for the Lapps offers an elegant and powerful figure, redolent with the materials and myths of the North, while technologically appropriate for this century.’
    • ‘The problematic character of Linnaeus's work is most clearly demonstrated by his inconsistent use of ‘primitive’ peoples like the Lapps or Sami.’
    • ‘Maybe some of the adoption of Finnish was a way of distancing themselves from the Lapps as well.’
    • ‘There is a Swedish-speaking minority of about 250,000 people, as well as smaller populations of Lapps and Gypsies.’
    • ‘The solution that the Lapps (not the Norwegians) came up with was to use their reindeer as an averaging mechanism.’
    • ‘She goes on to explain what a resource the reindeer is for the Lapps; how they eat everything but the skin and antlers, which of course have other uses.’
    • ‘It has been suggested by some authorities that the original witches sprang from a race of Mongol origin of which the Lapps are the sole surviving remnants.’
    • ‘My first winter at Earthways, I built a gamme, a traditional dwelling of Scandinavia's Sami people, who also are called Lapps.’
    • ‘Scotland is the sixth most homogeneous population in Europe, behind the Lapps, Sardinians, Basques, Icelanders and Finnish.’
    • ‘While the Sami, or Lapps (as they were formerly called), are commonly thought of as the inhabitants of Lapland, they have never had a country of their own.’
    • ‘But this is of greater concern to the bureaucrats than to the Lapps, who have abandoned their nomadic existence in favour of full-fledged membership in the welfare state.’
  • 2The Finno-Ugric language of the Lapps, with nine distinct dialects.


  • Relating to the Lapps or their language.

    • ‘My guess was that it was a traditional Lapp coat.’
    • ‘Later, Anni, a Lapp widow, who works a reindeer farm single-handed on the shores of a lake, finds the concussed Russian and drags him back to her hovel and nurses him to health.’
    • ‘These appear when Jim kisses Antonia, when Lena talks about how Norwegian men find ‘something mighty taking about the Lapp girls’, and when Antonia runs off with Larry Donovan.’
    • ‘Actually the Santa myth goes back to a Lapp man in folk history who used to cut firewood and give it to the poor during the winters, who also carved wooden toys for children.’
    • ‘While water from the taps in Finland runs clear and cold, we discovered that lungfuls of Lapp air are an even better tonic.’
    • ‘It is September 1944 and a Finnish sniper and a Red Army officer - sworn enemies - find respite and redemption in the care of a lonely Lapp woman.’
    • ‘Through persistence and ingenuity Wille is able to free himself from his captivity and then finds shelter with Anni, a young, sturdy and independent Lapp peasant.’
    • ‘The slow third movement, a depiction of a night in summer, starts off with a fugue, and ends with the song of a Lapp youth affected by a kind of existential sorrow.’
    • ‘In the north, like neighbouring Finland, Sweden has a Lapp region, known for its reindeer meat.’
    • ‘A Finnish sniper escapes his German captors; a Russian traitor escapes his Russian jailers; a Lapp woman, alone but for her reindeer, rescues them both.’
    • ‘The two men converge on the small farm of a young Lapp woman, Anni (Anni-Kristiina Juuso).’
    • ‘The film looks at the pain of Easter Europe in the new millennium with humor and humanity, bringing a Lapp woman, a Russian and a Finn together to try to make sense of it all.’
    • ‘On the west side of this new public forum, is a tall cone covered in rough timber strips; this is the chamber itself, made as a landmark in the wilderness and based on the traditional Lapp tent, the lavvo.’


Although the term Lapp is still widely used and is the most familiar term to many, the people themselves prefer to be called Sami


Swedish, perhaps originally a term of contempt and related to Middle High German lappe ‘simpleton’.