wampum

wampum

[wom-puhm, wawm-]
noun
1.
Also called peag, seawan, sewan. cylindrical beads made from shells, pierced and strung, used by North American Indians as a medium of exchange, for ornaments, and for ceremonial and sometimes spiritual purposes, especially such beads when white but also including the more valuable black or dark-purple varieties.
2.
Informal. money.

Origin:
1630–40; short for wampumpeag

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
wampum (ˈwɒmpəm)
 
n
1.  (formerly) money used by North American Indians, made of cylindrical shells strung or woven together, esp white shells rather than the more valuable black or purple ones
2.  informal (US), (Canadian) money or wealth
 
[C17: short for wampumpeag, from Narraganset wampompeag, from wampan light + api string + -ag plural suffix]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

wampum
1636, shortened from wampumpeag (1627), from Algonquian (probably Narragansett) wanpanpiak "string of white (shell beads)," from wab "white" + ompe "string" + pl. suffix -ag.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
wampum [(wahm-puhm)]

Beads made from polished shells that some Native Americans once used as money and jewelry.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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