Definition of powwow in English:



  • 1A North American Indian ceremony involving feasting, singing, and dancing.

    • ‘Dance will be a major part of the powwow, with several rounds of exhibition and intertribal dancing - and lots of audience participation - on both days.’
    • ‘Intertribal powwows featuring dance competitions are the ones at which visitors are most welcome.’
    • ‘Tipis routinely are transported to powwows, barter fairs and rendezvous on a truck's carrying racks.’
    • ‘Attend powwows and Métis festivals and talk to Elders.’
    • ‘The park had denied permission allegedly because park rules stipulate that events must end by a specified time, whereas ‘a proper powwow goes on all night.’’
    • ‘With a special pullout calendar of events, it encourages visitors to spend their tourist dollars by attending ethnic festivals or powwows, to feast on authentic cuisine and purchase artifacts from ethnic vendors.’
    • ‘I love the sound of Indian drums and chants at powwows and opera.’
    • ‘Still, a powwow is more than just dancing, drumming and eating Indian tacos; it's a bonding experience for the Aboriginal community.’
    • ‘In the past few decades, a rising interest in North American Plains culture has resurrected competition powwows on an extraordinary scale, bringing with it a huge demand for feathers.’
    • ‘Based on the records of explorers, the Omaha Nation of Nebraska has been counting annual powwows for about 200 years.’
    • ‘West, a Southern Cheyenne chief, says the buckskin shirt he wears to powwows has a connection to the animal it came from.’
    • ‘I became obsessed and took part in sweat lodge ceremonies, pipe ceremonies, powwows and other Aboriginal spiritual events.’
    • ‘That year, there was a national powwow with dances and ceremonies.’
    • ‘The last time I had been in Red Lake I was with my mother, sister, nieces, nephews and in-laws for a powwow.’
    • ‘He said his nominator asked him to attend the powwow and participate in a Plains Cree ceremony.’
    • ‘Other Native American tribes have experienced a similar rebirth, adopting, for example, the powwows and dances of the Plains Indians even though these practices were not part of their lost tradition.’
    • ‘We'll live in a tipi camp, learn about the plains environment, practice some traditional arts, attend a powwow, and hike in the splendour of the northern Rockies.’
    • ‘How and when the powwow began is complex, embedded in ancient cultural heritage and symbolism.’
    • ‘Alcohol and drugs are banned from powwow sites, and some powwows are organized to celebrate sobriety.’
    • ‘I ask if he would be so kind as to take me back to his tepee for a short powwow, and we walk down a sidewalk to a small patch of grass outside the rodeo arena.’
    1. 1.1A conference or meeting for discussion, especially among friends or colleagues.
      • ‘One minute, he's in a strategic powwow with top executives, in the next, he's peppered with questions from financial news reporters.’
      • ‘If things are as you say, you need to have a major powwow with your husband and discuss his relationship with his mother.’
      • ‘After the crew ties the boats off to the right-hand bank and scouts the rapid, the two put their heads together for a powwow.’
      • ‘Due to the divergent stances of the member nations, the annual powwow had difficulty reaching consensus on major international security issues and resolving economic problems.’
      • ‘More than 200 people attended the institution's 32nd annual powwow which was held in conjunction with the workshop.’
      discussion, talk, chat, gossip, tête-à-tête, heart-to-heart, head-to-head, exchange, dialogue, parley, consultation, conference
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[NO OBJECT]informal
  • Hold a powwow; confer.

    ‘news squads powwowed nervously’
    • ‘At one point during the annual sales powwow at a San Francisco convention center in August, a wizened Chambers came out from behind the podium to be closer to the 10,000 salespeople.’
    • ‘They hung around one night after the shelter closed and powwowed about ‘the three most pressing topics we wanted to raise at the staff meeting,’ she says.’
    • ‘The leaders of both sides of the argument will powwow in Miami.’
    • ‘In a meeting of altruistic minds at Stanford University last spring, 80 members of the tourism, academic, and NGO worlds powwowed on the subject of global giving.’
    • ‘He will be powwowing with Fortune 500 executives, foreign leaders, and banking magnates, too.’


Early 17th century: from Narragansett powáw magician (literally he dreams).