|The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.|
|NOUN :||Inflected forms: pl.
Eskimo or mos |
1. a. A group of peoples inhabiting the Arctic coastal regions of North America and parts of Greenland and northeast Siberia. b. A member of any of these peoples. See Native American. 2. Any of the languages of the Eskimo peoples.
|ETYMOLOGY:||French Esquimaux, possibly from Spanish esquimao, esquimal, from Montagnais ayashkimew, Micmac.|
|USAGE NOTES:||Eskimo has come under strong attack in recent years for its supposed offensiveness, and many Americans today either avoid this term or feel uneasy using it. It is widely known that Inuit, a term of ethnic pride, offers an acceptable alternative, but it is less well understood that Inuit cannot substitute for Eskimo in all cases, being restricted in usage to the Inuit-speaking peoples of Arctic Canada and parts of Greenland. In Alaska and Arctic Siberia, where Inuit is not spoken, the comparable terms are Inupiaq and Yupik, neither of which has gained as wide a currency in English as Inuit. While use of these terms is often preferable when speaking of the appropriate linguistic group, none of them can be used of the Eskimoan peoples as a whole; the only inclusive term remains Eskimo.·The claim that Eskimo is offensive is based primarily on a popular but disputed etymology tracing its origin to an Abenaki word meaning eaters of raw meat. Though modern linguists speculate that the term actually derives from a Montagnais word referring to the manner of lacing a snowshoe, the matter remains undecided, and meanwhile many English speakers have learned to perceive Eskimo as a derogatory term invented by unfriendly outsiders in scornful reference to their neighbors' unsophisticated eating habits. See Usage Notes at Inuit .|
|The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.|
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