Word Origin & History

1767, Norse name for inhabitants of Greenland encountered by the Viking settlers there, from O.N. Skræingar (pl.), apparently lit. "little men" (cf. Icel. skrælna "shrink"); another term for them was smair menn. The name may have been used first in ref. to the inhabitants of Vineland (who
would have been Indians), then transf. to Eskimos, who adopted it into their own language as Kalaleq.
"Hans Egede, who published a dictionary of Greenland Eskimo in 1739, says that the Eskimos themselves told him that they got the name from the Norsemen who once lived in Greenland." [Gordon, p.217-8]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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