Sunday, 19 March 2017


Whilst my taste in music is varied it could never be described as eclectic - incidentally this is number two on my list of least favourite words, albeit a considerable way behind the P-word. But I digress. My mentioning music came after I was recently sent a list of classical composers, these were to be included in a quiz-style crossword. Followers of my blog will not be surprised to discover some of the clues were based on the etymologies of their names.Thus this time a look at the origins of a selection of the names of composers which many will infinitely better acquainted than I - and yes, 'a selection' means I have only included those I could define.

Bach - being German he took his name from the word for a stream, rivulet, brook, or creek.

Bartok - this Hungarian takes the pet form of a the Christian name Bartalan or Bertalan, itself a form of Bartholomew.

Beethoven - another of German origins where beeth, meaning 'beet', and hofen, the plural of hof, meaning 'farms', tell us this most famous of deaf people had ancestors who farmed beetroot.

Bellini - Italian operatic composer Vincenzo has a surname translating as 'the little beautiful one'.

Borodin - the Russian translation is, quite literally, 'well height' and understood to as 'tall'.

Brahms - a German name which is ultimately of Hebrew origin in Bram where it meant 'high or good father'.

Bruckner - a topographical name, the earliest meaning being for a person who lived on or near a causeway or bridge. However it is more commonly applied to those who worked at such a location, gathering tolls and/or maintaining a bridge.

Chopin - a French surname derived from an old liquid imperial measurement. In France it would be seen as roughly equal to a quart but in Scotland became corrupted to refer to a half pint.

Debussy - a French surname taken from any of several Norman place names all of which mean 'mouth' and of which there is even an example of a Norman landholder in Domesday, this being Robert de Buci.

Delius - a name of Greek origin meaning 'from Delos', a Greek island of 1.32 square miles and a population at the 2001 census of 14.

Dvorak - a common Czech surname referring to a rich landowner in a manor house.

Elgar - a name of Germanic origins, it literally means 'shining spear'.

Faure - an Occitan name, a Romance language, meaning simply 'blacksmith'.

Franck - comes from the French reference to those Germanic peoples living around the Rhine during the times of the Roman Empire, the Franks.

Glinka - a Polish name, one referring to those who came from Glinki.

Gluck - is taken from a Yiddish word glik meaning 'luck'.

Grieg - is ultimately from the Greek gregorein 'be awake, watchful'.

Handel - a Germanic name meaning 'trade' or 'commerce'.

Haydn - a Welsh name derived from the Celtic Aidan, itself meaning 'little fire'.

Holst - refers to someone from Holstein, the German town having a name coming from the people who lived here the Holcetae or 'dwellers in the wood'.

Liszt - a Hungarian name which literally translates as 'flour'.

Mahler - is a German surname and, like the above, is a trade name. Whilst it is derived from the word for 'painter', the name is very specifically used to refer to those who painted stained glass.

Mozart - derived from the Latin, this meaning 'the love of God'.

Purcell - another of Norman origin where the literal translation is 'piglet', however it would have been used a nickname or to refer to a swineherd.

Rossini - an Italian name derived from rosso meaning 'red' and originally applied to one with red hair or ruddy complexion.

Schoenberg - is another topographical name, here German scoene berg refers to 'a beautiful hill'.

Schubert - is a trade name of German origin where schuoch wurhte meant 'shoemaker, cobbler'.

Schumann - has an identical meaning, albeit here the German schuoh mann refers literally to 'a shoe man'.

Smetana - a name of Czech and/or Ukranian Jewish origins. The origin is undoubtedly smetana meaning 'cream', although whether it was a nickname, perhaps for someone who liked cream (or ironically one who did not) or a trader in this and other dairy products is unknown.

Sousa - a name of Portuguese origins, being particularly common in former Portuguese colonies. Archaically it refers to a place, any place where the people came from for it describes them as being 'of the rocks'.

Strauss - a Germanic surname which has at least three equally plausible origins. It may be the family lived in a place named Straus, itself referring to 'the ostrich'. Here this may point to a place where the feathers of this bird were used in heraldry or, and this an alternative origin, as a nickname for those who habitually wore same as an adornment. Alternatively this may also be a nickname for someone known for arguing or confrontation, for the German struz means 'quarrel, belligerent'.

Tchaikovsky - a Russian composer whose name comes from the Russian for a bird, specifically the gull.

Verdi - an Italian composer with an Italian name meaning 'green'.

Vivaldi - another Italian composer whose name is derived from vita or 'life'.

Wagner - a German name from waganari meaning either 'wagon maker' or 'wagon driver'.

Walton - an English place name, where wahl tun means 'the farmstead of the foreigners' (Britons).

Weber - a German name and another representing a trade for this translates as 'weaver'.

Sunday, 12 March 2017


Nothing political here, I am talking about metrication. Those of you of a certain age will recall the days before metres and litres when measurements may have been a little more complicated but were certainly more fun.

Being of a certain age I recall the initial confusion from February 1971, when the pound sterling ceased being divided into 240 pennies but now only had a hundred. I've often thought it would be fun to change these values annually, where the pound is divided into smaller denominations. Perhaps reintroduce the shilling but this time there will be 17 shillings to the pound and 31 pennies in a shilling. Prime numbers are far more interesting.

If this seems rather odd, cast your mind back to the days when our exercise books had a series of tables on the reverse telling us how many pecks were in a bushel and other imperial measurements the younger generations may never have heard of. Each of these seeming oddities has a beginning and therefore a meaning. There are so many it is impossible to work all of them but here are a selection and taken in alphabetical order.

Acre is probably one of the better known imperial measurements. It is commom to many languages and originates in the Proto-Indo-European root agro which simply meant 'field' and not used as a measurement in the modern sense until the 13th century.

Bar, as a unit of pressure, comes from the Greek baros 'heavy' and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European gwere 'weight'.

Bushel, a measure of volume for dry goods, came to English from Old French. Of much more interest is where the French got the term, for it is derived from Gaulish bosta 'palm of the hand', a term still seen in the Irish bass and Breton boz 'hollow of the hand'.

Chain is most often associated with the length of a cricket pitch - 22 yards - and was named because it was measured by using an actual chain. Yet it began with surveying land, the length conveniently being one-tenth of a furlong and any field measuring one furlong in length (220 yards) and a chain in breadth (22 yards) has an area of 4,840 square yards or one acre. It is also still used in identifying any given point on a length of railway track, it seen expressed in miles and chains, and also in distances quoted in horse racing.

Dram comes from the Greek drakhma 'measure of weight' and originally simply meant 'handful'.

Foot holds no surprises, it has always been said to be the length of a man's foot - meaning the measurement varied with the size of the person's feet. As a body part the word dates from Proto-Indo-European (and probably earlier) when ped meant 'foot'.

Furlong is derived from the Germanic furh lang 'the long furrow', and clearly originated through ploughing. Although the mile is the basic measurement of distance today, until Elizabethan times the furlong was the standard and so much so the mile was redefined to make it equal to eight furlongs.

Gallon comes from galleta meaning 'bucket, pail' but also used to refer to 'a measure of wine'.

Grain is clearly related to the same word being used to describe the seed of cereals, and that is exactly what the Proto-Indo-European gre no meant.

Hour predates the clock and can be traced to Proto-Indo-European yor-a meaning 'year' and 'season' and understood as 'point of time'.

Inch is derived from the Latin unus 'one', used in the sense 'a small amount' before becoming a unit of length.

Mile comes from the Latin for 'one thousand' and refers to the number of paces. Now although the mile was rather shorter than the modern 1,760 yards (see furlong), it would still seem a good stride to walk 1,600 yards in a thousand paces. That does not mean the Romans were giants or had impressive inside leg measurements, it is simply the Roman 'pace' would be seen as two paces by us.

Minute has two pronunciations - as a sixtieth of an hour and to refer to something small. Originally the former meaning was the only one used and this became the name of the part of the hour, ie a small or minute part of the hour (see second).

Month takes its name from the moon.

Ounce, as with 'inch' can be traced to Latin unus 'one'. What is not well known is the 'ounce' has not only been a measurement of weight but also of time (about 7.1/2 seconds) and length (3 inches).

Peck is another used to refer to volume of dry goods, particularly associated with oats. It is thought to be a variation on 'pick' and used in the sense of 'allowance'.

Perch was a linear measurement of 5.1/2 yards and marked out using such a stick or pole, the reason why it takes the name - this is the French version, also seen in the Old English 'rod' and 'pole' and even 'yard'.

Pint has the same origin as 'paint', for early vessels marked the liquid volume equal to a pint with a painted line.

Quart, or two pints, is also a quater of a gallon and the latter is where the name originates.

Second, as in a sixtieth of a minute, was originally secunda minuta and, as seen in 'minute' above, this was also a 'small part' of an hour but the 'second small part'. Thus as the minute was originally as in 'diminuntive' and the first part of an hour, this measure of time was spoken of as 'the one after the first'.

Ton shares an origin with 'tun', a large cask of wine or beer - most often seen today in the many pubs known as the Three Tuns (symbolising the guilds of brewers and vintners). Thus the weight 'ton' began as a volume 'tun'.

Week is thought to be related to the Old Norse vika, which had the original meaning of 'a turning'. Thus as 'month' is from 'moon', perhaps the four distinct phases of the moon are referred to as 'changes' or 'weeks'.

Year is so old it is impossible to know for certain, the annual cycle clearly not only known to the ancients but what they lived their entire lives by. With similar forms common to many early languages, the root ei with a sense of 'that which makes (grows, produces)' seems likely.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Blooming Etymologies

With spring fast approaching here in the UK and, undoubtedly aided by a mild winter, the flowers associated with the season are already adding a splash of colour. Snowdrops have come and will soon be gone, crocus are putting on an excellent show, yellow daffodils are out or nearly so, and tulips will soon be flowering and looking past their best seemingly hours later.

As with all nouns, names of flowers were originally created in order to be recognised. Over the years these have been corrupted and changed beyond recognition, or named by science for reasons usually only they understand. Thus this time, as you may have guessed, a look at the origins of some flower names. Taken in alphabetical order we begin with .......

Agave is named from the Latin, itself from Greek Agaue, a proper name in Greek mythology. Her name, and thus that of the flower, is derived from the Greek meaning 'noble, illustrious' and thought to have been used by scientists to refer to the flower stem rather than the flower.

Alyssum certainly comes from another Latin loan word from the Greek, although just why alyssos describes the plant as 'curing madness' is not clear.

Amaryllis also has a Latin/Greek origin and comes from amaryssein meaning 'to twinkle, sparkle'.

Anemone is a Greek word meaning 'wind flower', literally 'daughter of the wind' and can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European animus, to breathe', with a feminine suffix.

Aster is named from the Latin and Greek for 'star', a refernece to the flower shape.

Azaleas like sandy soil and is named from the Greek azaleos 'dry'. Related words are found in Hittite hassa 'hearth' and Sanskrit asa 'ashes, dust'.

Begonias are named after the French governor of Santo Domingo and patron of botany Michael Begon (1638-1710).

Chrysanthemum comes from the Greek khrysanthemon literally meaning 'golden flower' and unites the elements anthemon 'a flower' and Proto-Indo-European andh 'bloom'.

Cowslip is named for it was thought to grow only on ground where cow dung could previously have been found.

Cyclamen comes from Latin/Greek where ultimately kyklos meant 'circle', a reference to the bulbous shape of the root.

Dahlia comes, as many will know, from Anders Dahl, the Swedish botanist who first found and identified it.

Delphinium is another of Latin/Greek origins. Here Greek staphis agria literally means 'wild raisin'.

Edelweiss, as Vince Hill will undoubtedly have told you, is from the Old High German edili weiss of 'noble white'.

Erica is a plant genus named from the Greek ereike 'heath'.

Forsythia, which just so happens to be showing the first signs of the yellow flower through the window, is named after Scottish horticulturalist William Forsyth (1737-1804). His family name is of Gaelic origin, Fearsithe meaning 'man of peace'.

Fuchsia comes from German botanist Leonard Fuchs (1501-1566) whose name means 'fox'. While the term 'fuchsia' has been taken for the red colouring of the same name, the idea of 'red' referring to the colouring of the fox is, to say the least, fanciful.

Geraniums are named from the Greek and Latin, where grus means 'crane' and refers to the seed pods resembling a bill of the crane, indeed the plant is still sometimes referred to as 'cranesbill'.

Gladiolus is Latin for 'small sword', a reference to its sword-shaped leaves.

Gypsophila comes from the Greek, where gypsos philein literally describes 'to love chalk'.

Hydrangea comes from the Greek hydor angeion meaning water vessel' and a reference to the seed pods.

Lavender came to English from French and ultimately from Latin, where lavare meant 'to wash' and a reminder the scent was used to wash and perfume fabrics.

Magnolias are named after the French physican and botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715).

Narcissus comes from the Greek narke 'numbness' and related to narcotic becuase of the sedative alkaloids obtained from the plant.

Orchids are the favourite flower of many because of their numerous forms and extraodinary colours and shapes. It is also my favourite flower, but for very different reasons. It came to English from Latin orchis and Greek orkhis meaning 'testicle' because of the shape of the root. Around 1300 it was known in England as the 'ballockwort', where 'ballock' is simply the diminutive of 'ball'.

Poinsettias are named after Joel Poinsett, the US ambassador to Mexico who is credited with bringing the plant to the attention of the rest of world - but this may be a load of orchids.

Rhododendron is the Greek for 'rose tree'.

Snapdragon flowers are said to resemble the mouth of a dragon - and also, since 1704, the name of a game where players pluck raisins from burning brandy and them eat them while still burning.

Tansy is a herb, its name from the French and ultimately the Greek athanasia 'immortality'., itself a a prefix meaning 'not' and thanatos 'death'. This may seem a strange meaning until we learn the plant has always had negative associations with pregnancy, either as a contraceptive or to bring about a miscarriage.

Tulips are my least favourite flower, the leaves begin to droop even before the flower emerges and the petals fall far too easily. It came to English through French and ultimately from Turkish tulbent 'a turban' as it is said to resemble such.

Wisteria was wrongly named after American anatomist Caspar Wistar (1761-1818), making it rather less of an honour.

Sunday, 26 February 2017


When someone recently referred to me as a 'dinosaur', they were suggesting I am reluctant to take on new technologies and changes. As 'dinosaur' is first used in this context in 1952, thus isn't it about time they found a new one?

Used in its better-known context it was coined in 1841 and coined by Sir Richard Owen from the Greek deinos sauros 'terrible lizard'. Something of a misnomer as dinosaurs are not lizards but are reptiles which could be said to be another translation. The term saurus is common to many of the names, its origins are unclear but may be related to saulos 'twisting, wavering'.

Scientists have identified more than one thousand non-avian species. Clearly that is far too many to define etymologically but here follows a selection of the better-known types.

Allosaurus were first identified in 1877 by Othniel Charles Marsh who, rather unimaginatively, named it from the Greek allos saurus 'different lizard'.

Ankylosaurus was first named in 1907. This armoured creature is named from the Greek ankylos saurus or 'curved lizard' and a reference to the shape of the ribs, the first part of the creature to be discovered.

Brachiosaurus is another from the Greek, where brakhion saurus literally means 'arm lizard' and a reference to its front limbs being much more evident than the rear.

Brontosaurus were first named in 1879, where the Greek bronte saurus referred to this as the 'thunder lizard'. While Brontes was the name of a Cyclops in Greek mythology, both share a root in Proto-Indo-European bhrem meaning 'growl'.

Hadrosaurs were named as such in 1865, where Greek hadro saurus describes the 'stout lizard'.

Iguanodon dates from 1825, a composite noun taking 'iguana', itself the local Arawakan name for the creature, and the Greek odonys 'tooth'.

Megalosaurus almost speaks for itself, the Greek megas saurus meaning 'great lizard'.

Mosasaurus is the marine dinosaur seen in Jurassic World and named from the Latin Mosa and Greek saurus describe 'the lizard found near the river Meuse' near Maastricht.

Stegosaurus is first identified in 1892 and named from the Greek stegos saurus, literally 'rood lizard'. This refers to the armour plates which instantly identify the creature, the first element having changed little since Proto-Indo-European steg 'having a roof'.

Diplodocus is from the Greek diplos dokus, quite literally 'double beam' and a reference to the doubling of the bones beneath the long tail.

Tricertops, first identified in 1890, is named from the Greek tirkeratos ops meaning 'three-horned face'.

Tyrannosaurus, first named in 1905, comes from the Greek tyrannos saurus 'tyrant lizard'.

Velociraptors were named in 1924, with the Latin velox raptor 'speedy, swift robber'.

Sunday, 19 February 2017


Have not paid any attention to the news for years. Don't watch it, listen to it, or read about it - virtually every single item I found frustrating or it angered me. If something major happens, someone will tell me.

And this is just how I learned someone nobody likes had been invited to speak in Britain and then wasn't and now has .... I lost interest halfway through and already wondering why various terms had been coined for parliaments around the world. Thus rather than being political, which isn't me, I've opted for the etymological, which is not only me but also infinitely more interesting. There are many different terms for the body of government but will start with the English term.

Parliament is not recorded in English until the end of the twelfth century. From Old French parlement and parler 'to speak'.

Althing, the Icelandic version, is derived from the Germanic thingam 'assembly', also seen in Old English thing, Middle Dutch dinc, and Old High German ding among others. All these can be traced to Proto-Indo-European tenk, literally meaning 'stretch' but used in the sense of 'time' or 'session' put aside for a meeting. Note the modern 'hustings', only heard today to refer to politicians on the campaign trail, shares this origin and came to English from Old Norse husthing or 'house assembly'.

Bundestag and Bunderstat are the two houses of the German parliament, these translating to 'Federal Diet' and 'Federal Council' respectively. Here 'Diet' comes from the Latin dieta or 'parliamentary assembly' and, etymologically speaking, shares an origin with the idea of food intake.

Commons as in 'House of' simply means 'general' and came from the Latin communis.

Congress is first used in the late 14th century to refer to 'a body of attendants' or 'meeting of armed forces', not seen in the modern sense until the early 16th century. This is derived from the Latin congressus, which could be used to mean both a friendly or hostile encounter, depending on the context. Taking this back further we find Latin com 'together' and gradus 'a step'.

Cortes is Spain's version, from Latin cortem which shares an origin with 'court'. While used in the sense of 'assembly' and those present, it also refers to 'the enclosed yard' and where such could assemble.

Curia shares an origin with the above 'Cortes', as we should expect as this is the senate of Rome and where curia meant 'court' and could well come from co wiria 'community of men'.

Dail, the Irish parliament, simply means 'assembly'. Interestingly the root of this Irish term is also the root for the English 'deal', as in the sense 'share, quantity, amount' and both have a common root in Proto-Indo-European dail 'to divide'.

Diet was an assembly of the Roman Empire and is discussed under Bundestag above.

Duma is from the Russian verb meaning 'to think, consider'. First used for local councils from about 1870, it is not seen for the national assembly until 1905. Having a common root with both 'doom' and 'deem', these all originate in the Proto-Germanic doms 'judgement'.

Knesset, the Israeli parliament, takes its name from the Mishnaic Hebrew keneseth 'gathering, assembly'.

Majlis, the Persian version, is from the Arabic for 'assembly' although literally 'session' and derived from jalasa 'to be seated'.

Poliburo, another Russian term, dates from 1927 and the Russain politbyuro. It is a contraction of politicheskoe byuro meaning 'political bureau'.

Presidium is also Russian but dates from much earlier than the previous example. While the modern idea is not seen until 1924 as prezidium, this originates from Latin praesidium 'to preside over'.

Riksdag is a Swedish word and the general term for 'parliament' or 'assembly'. Along with Finland's Riksdag, the Estonian Riigikogu, historical German Reichstag and Danish Rigsdagen. All these are derived from rike 'royal power' and dag 'conference'.

Senate is from the Latin senex 'the elder' or even 'the old one'. Here suggesting with great age comes wisdom.

Tynwald is derived from the Old Norse 'the meeting place'. Famously this parliament of the Isle of Man is the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world.

Witan, the Saxon political institution, is a contraction of Witenagemot and from the Proto-Germanic witan 'to know' and ultimately Proto-Indo-European weid 'to see'.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


I first began tracing my ancestry more than thirty years ago. Oral family history spoke of an ancestor being 'the Honourable' and I began a long search.

It turned out to be half right but did make me wonder just where these titles came from.

Earl is possibly the most likely to be known, this being of Saxon or Old English origins where eorl originally coiuld be used to mean 'brave man, warrior, leader, chief' and contracted with the peasant or churl.

Baron came to English from Old French, and ultimately from Latin baro or simply 'man'. Note the Franks used the same word to mean 'freeman', which may well have helped develop the idea of a higher ranking. Clearly both 'baronet' and 'baroness' are derivations.

Count is another coming to English from Old French. Here conte is from the Latin comitem meaning 'companion, attendant', and used as the title for a provincial governor. The feminine 'coountess' is first seen in the middle of the 12th century.

Duke, once again, came from Old French where duc and the earlier Latin dux both meant 'leader'. All these terms can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European deuk meaning 'to lead'. Interestingly the rank od duke, or indeed duchess, is unrecorded before the end of the 12th century.

Lord comes from Old English hlaford 'master of the house' and is itself from the earlier Old English hlafweard, quite literally 'one who guards the loaves'. This dovetails quite nicely with the origins of 'lady' or hlafaeta meaning 'bread kneader'.

Marquis, and therefore marchioness, is from Old French marchis, quite literally 'ruler of a border area' and taken from Old French marche and Latin marca both meaning 'frontier'.

Viscount and viscountess can be traced to Old French visconte and ultimately from the Latin vice 'deputy' and comes 'nobleman'.

Dame is from Old French dame, 'lady, mistress, wife' and genrally referring to 'the woman of the house' as this comes from the Latin domus 'house'. Both Spanish and Portuguese 'don' share the same origin.

Hidalgo is unrecorded before 1590, this thought to be a shortened form of filho de algo or 'son of someone'. Late Iberian usage probably points to an Arabic origin of ibn nas or 'son of the people' which was used as an honorary title.

Knight came from Old English cniht meaning 'boy, youth, servant, attendant'. Not until the Normans arrived did it become any sort of title or standing.

Noble is a collective term first seen at the end of the 12th century. Coming to English from Old French noble and Latin nobilis, it simply means 'of high birth' just as it does in English today. Interestingly this can be traced to Proto-Indo-European gno 'to know' and used in the sense of 'well known'.

Seneschal is an Old French term meaning 'steward, majordomo' in its simplest terms. Despite coming to English from French, the term is Proto-Germanic where sini-skalk 'senior servant' is related to modern words such as 'senile' and 'marshal'.

Squire may not have been the highest of ranks but proved to be the first step on the ladder for many. This comes from Old French esquier or 'shield carrier' and most often seen today in the form of address 'esquire'.

Honourable was the one which started all this and is recorded in English from the end of the 13th century. Clearly a word used as an adjective and derived from 'honour', the latter coming from Old French onor, which is why we do not pronounce the 'h', and from Latin honorem 'dignity, reputation'.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Native American Tribal Names

With the continent of North America very much in the news of late, it is to pre-European days I turn and a look at the origins of the names of the Native American peoples. What I thought would be challenging research, thinking these could have little connection with the Indo-European languages with which I am familair (etymologically speaking), proved less of a problem that I suspected.

Apache is first recorded by the Spanish Conquistadors, who referred to those they encountered as Apachu de Nabajo around 1620. To confuse matters the Spanish later used the same Apachu to refer to other groups they encountered further east and that tends to suggest the word is unlikely to have been how the people referred to themselves. Indeed oral tradition maintains they referred to themselves as Inde meaning either 'person' or 'people' depending on the context. Most consider the Spanish to be from the Zuni word a-pacu which meant 'Navajos' (see below), although some have suggested the Yavapai pace or 'enemy' as an alternative. A third suggestion, the Spanish mapache or 'raccoon', may seem to fit etymologically but has little else going for it.

Arapaho is uncerain, but may be from iriiraraapuhu meaning 'trader' or a Crow word meaning 'tattoo'. They refer to themselves as Hitano'iv 'people of the sky' or Hetanevoeo 'cloud people', while other peoples described them as 'blue cloud men', 'blue sky people', 'pierced nose people', and also 'dog-eaters'.

Cherokee refer to themselves as Ani-Yu-wiya, literally 'the principal people'. Origins of the modern name have many theories, none certain, and include Choctaw cha-la-kee or 'people who live in the mountains', Choctaw chi-luk-ik-bi 'people who live in cave country', or Iroquois Oyata'ge;ronon also 'inhabitants of the cave country'. Sometimes we hear the name of the Cherokee given as Tsalagi but this is the Cherokee name for their own language.

Cheyenne is correctly the collective name given to two Native American tribes: the So'taeo'o and Tsetsehestahese, ostensibly the north and south peoples, tke their names from their name for the Cree language and a name literally meaning 'those who are like this' respectively. The later name of Cheyenne probably comes from a Siouan language meaning 'red-talker' and effectively describing those who talk differently.

Choctaw have been said to take their name from an early leader but more commonly from the phrase hacha hatak which, in their language, means 'river people'.

Comanche is the Ute name for them where kimantsi means simply 'enemy'.

Crow refer to themselves as Apsaalooke or 'children of large-beaked bird' and it was French explorers who translated this as 'people of the crows'.

Illinois is a state which takes its name from the Illinois people. Here their name is an Algonquin word meaning 'tribe of superior men'.

Huron is a name taken from the Algonquin irri-ronon or 'cat nation'> Note some sources give this as ka-ron 'straight coast' and others disagree completely in suggesting this is tu-ron or 'crooked coast'. Also known as the Wyandot people, taken from their language possibly wendat 'forest' or yendata 'village' - the vast difference due to corruption as the trail is followed through the French name of Ouendat.

Ioway, who gave their name to the state of Iowa, take their name from ayuhwa or 'sleepy ones' although they refer to themselves as Baxoje or 'grey snow'.

Kiowa call themselves the Ka'igwu or 'principal people', although earlier this is held to have been Kutjau 'emerging' or Kwu-da 'coming out rapidly'. Possibly the modern form is simply a corruption of their name as no convincing etymology has been suggested.

Mohawk comes from the name given them by neighbouring tribes, where maw-unk-lin or 'bear people'. They refer to themselves as Kanien'keha'ka, which translates as 'flint stone place'.

Mohican take their name from the place where they lived, muh-he-ka-neew referring to 'the people of the great flowing waters'.

Navajo are a Athabaskan people and comes from their language. Here nava 'field' and hu 'valley' is understood as 'large planted field'.

Pawnee refer to themselves as Chaticks si Chaticks meaning 'men of men' - to the French they were Pani which later became a term describing a slave.

Seminole is derived from a Spanish term where cimarron could mean either 'runaway', 'untamed' or 'wild one'.

Shawnee is a Munsee name where sawanow means 'people of the south'.

Sioux is an Algonquian name where natowessiwak meant 'little snakes'.

Swanee could be a corruption of the Spanish San Juan 'Saint John' but this seems unlikely when we have the Suwannee River. This gave the name to the people who could be found alongside the sawani or 'echo' river.

Ute gave their name to the state of Utah and is generally believed to refer to themselves as 'people of the mountain'. However some sources give an alternative, suggesting this is an Apache name where Yudah means 'tall'.

Yaqui call themselves the Hiaki or Yoeme meaning simply 'people'.