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Word Origin and History for tonto
former term for the Western Apaches, from Sp., lit. "foolish;" probably a translation of a name given to the people by other branches of the Apache, e.g. Chiricahua Apache /bini:'édiné/, Mescalero Apache /bini:'édinendé/, both lit. "people without minds," and used to designate the Western Apaches. Sp. tonto is originally a nursery word, used for its sound.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for tonto



Any male American Indian

[1980s+; fr the faithful Indian companion of the cowboy hero the Lone Ranger, who first appeared in a 1930s Detroit radio series]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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