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Skraeling

n.

1767, Norse name for inhabitants of Greenland encountered by the Viking settlers there, from Old Norse Skræingjar (plural), apparently literally "little men" (cf. Icelandic skrælna "shrink"); another term for them was smair menn. The name may have been used first in reference to the inhabitants of Vineland (who would have been Indians), then transferred 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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