Definition of wampum in US English:

wampum

noun

historical
  • Small cylindrical beads made by some North American Indian peoples from shells, strung together and worn as decoration or used as money.

    ‘strings of wampum’
    • ‘Wampum was American Indian bead money, and the purple interior of the quahog shell was used for high-denomination wampum.’
    • ‘Federal negotiators, in turn, received wampum, pipes, and sometimes weapons.’
    • ‘Three beads of wampum separating the two purple rows symbolize peace, friendship and respect.’
    • ‘From the early 1620s, coastal Indians supplied wampum (sacred shell beads, polished and strung in strands, belts, or sashes) to Dutch traders who exchanged it with inland natives for beaver pelts.’
    • ‘A wampum of dark color signaled a serious purpose, sadness, or perhaps great political importance.’

Origin

From Algonquian wampumpeag, from wap ‘white’ + umpe ‘string’ + the plural suffix -ag.

Pronunciation

wampum

/ˈwämpəm//ˈwɑmpəm/