Definition of Penutian in US English:



  • Relating to or denoting a proposed superfamily or phylum of North American languages including Chinook, Klamath, and Nez Percé, most of which are now extinct or nearly so. Some scholars include certain living languages of Central and South America, principally Mayan and Mapuche, in this group.

    • ‘They speak a Sahaptian dialect of the Penutian language family, which is common among other Plateau groups in the mid-Columbia River region.’
    • ‘Some linguists have categorized it as a Penutian language.’
    • ‘The Penutian language group of Western America is related to the languages of the Maya and the Zoque of Mesoamerica.’


  • The Penutian family of languages.

    • ‘Eventually, the people who spoke Penutian arrived.’
    • ‘The Costanoans (which means "coast people" in Spanish) spoke Penutian and lived along California's Central Coast.’


From pen and uti, words for ‘two’ in two groups of Penutian languages + -an.