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[ath-uh-bas-kuh n] /ˌæθ əˈbæs kən/
a family of languages spoken by American Indians in most of inland northwest Canada and Alaska, in coastal Oregon and California, and in Arizona and the Rio Grande basin, and including especially Navajo, Apache, and Chipewyan.
Compare family (def 14).
a member of any of various American Indian peoples speaking Athabaskan.
belonging to or characteristic of the Athabaskans.
Also, Athabascan, Athapaskan, Athapascan.
Origin of Athabaskan
Woods Cree
1770-80; earlier Athapasca(s), introduced as a term for the Canadian Athabaskans (< Woods Cree ahδapaska·w Lake Athabaska, literally, there are reeds here and there < Proto-Algonquian *aʔlap(y)- net, reticulated + *-ašk- plant + derivational elements) + -an Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for Athabaskan
Historical Examples
  • The Apaches of Arizona, preminent even among red men for atrocious cruelty, are an offshoot from the Athabaskan stock.

  • Their dialect is the softest and most copious of the Athabaskan tongues.

  • The Athabaskan languages form as clearly unified, as structurally specialized, a group as any that I know of.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • Now as these last are Athabaskan, there must have been displacement.

    Opuscula Robert Gordon Latham
  • Eskimo characteristics appear in the Athabaskan, Athabaskan in the Koluch forms of speech.

    Opuscula Robert Gordon Latham
  • Some of them were half wolf—creatures that were the result of inter-breeding on the part of Athabaskan Indians.

    Colorado Jim George Goodchild
  • As a general rule, the southern limit of the Eskimo is the northern limit of the Athabaskan area.

  • All the Athabaskan languages or dialects are mutually intelligible.

  • In the same parts the Athabaskan forms of speech differ most from each other.

    Opuscula Robert Gordon Latham
  • The water-system in question forms the centre of the great Athabaskan area—the centre, but not the whole.

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