Native American and the English Language

When Europeans came to the New World, they adopted many Native American words for animals and plants not found in the Old World. Eventually many of these words became part of the English language. Animal names from Native American words include: moose, opossum, raccoon, skunk, and woodchuck. Plant names based on Native American words are hickory, hominy, pecan, pone, squash and succotash.

Other English words taken from Native American languages include moccasin and toboggan. Words like avocado, canoe, chili, chocolate, coyote, hurricanes and tobacco.

Hundreds of mountains, rivers cities and towns have Native American names. The word Mississippi comes from an Algonquian tribe meaning big river. Cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee and Omaha have Native American names. So do more than half the states of the United States, including Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Utah and Wyoming.

Source: World Book Encyclopedia, 2004




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