of Sami origin; akin to North Sami sápmi, genitive sámi the Sami homeland, language, or way of life
First Known Use: 1842
Any of the descendants of ancient nomadic peoples who inhabited northern Scandinavia. They may be Paleo-Siberian or alpine peoples from central Europe. Reindeer hunting was the basis of their life from earliest times; herding was the basis of their economy until recently. They became nomadic a few centuries ago. The three Sami languages, mutually unintelligible, are sometimes considered dialects of one language of the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family. They number about 70,000.