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[skwaw] /skwɔ/
Older Use: Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian woman, especially a wife.
Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
  1. a contemptuous term used to refer to a wife.
  2. a contemptuous term used to refer to any woman or girl.
Origin of squaw
1625-35, Americanism; < Massachusett (E spelling) squa, ussqua woman, younger woman < Proto-Algonquian *eθkwe·wa
Usage note
Origjnally a neutral term, squaw began to be perceived as offensive by the early 20th century and has since declined in use. Part of the reason may be that the word is sometimes mistakenly thought to refer literally to the female genitals. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for squaw
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • squaw Creek's clear, pellucid, snow-fed stream runs purling, babbling or roaring and foaming by to the right.

    The Lake of the Sky George Wharton James
  • I returned to the squaw River and spent the half of another year up there.

    Murder Point Coningsby Dawson
  • But squaw Valley had another epoch, which it was hoped would materially and forever destroy its quiet and pastoral character.

    The Lake of the Sky George Wharton James
  • For an hour he rode and came to the junction of Mill Creek and the squaw.

    Rim o' the World B. M. Bower
  • squaw Charley hastened back to the shingle roof for an armful of fuel.

    The Plow-Woman Eleanor Gates
British Dictionary definitions for squaw


(offensive) a North American Indian woman
(slang) generally (facetious) a woman or wife
Word Origin
C17: of Algonquian origin; compare Natick squa female creature
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for squaw

"American Indian woman," 1630s, from Massachuset (Algonquian) squa "woman" (cf. also Narraganset squaws "woman"). "Over the years it has come to have a derogatory sense and is now considered offensive by many Native Americans" [Bright]. Widespread in U.S. place names, sometimes involving a translation of local American Indian words for "woman."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for squaw

square with

verb phrase

To be honest with someone; come clean: You need to square with her about the intrusions

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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