8 Wintry Words to Defrost Your Vocabulary
1580s, from Danish Eskimo or Middle French Esquimaux (plural), both probably from an Algonquian word, such as Abenaki askimo (plural askimoak), Ojibwa ashkimeq, traditionally said to mean literally "eaters of raw meat," from Proto-Algonquian *ask- "raw" + *-imo "eat." Research from 1980s in linguistics of the region suggests this derivation, though widely credited there, might be inaccurate or incomplete, and the word might mean "snowshoe-netter." Cf. also Innuit. Eskimo pie "chocolate-coated ice cream bar" introduced 1921.
A widely dispersed group of peoples in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia, who have traditionally survived primarily by hunting and fishing. Despite the isolation of Eskimo communities, the Eskimos display a strong cultural, racial, and linguistic unity. Many Eskimos, especially those in Canada, prefer the name Inuit.
Note: Most people picture isolated Eskimos living in igloos and driving dogsleds; however, contact with outsiders has resulted in adoption of permanent housing settlements, snowmobiles and motorboats, and modern hunting equipment.
Note: Christianity has replaced many traditional religious beliefs. Efforts by federal governments to incorporate Eskimo societies have included establishment of schools in Eskimo communities and opportunities to participate in the larger government and economy.