Ai·​nu ˈī-(ˌ)nü How to pronounce Ainu (audio)
plural Ainu or Ainus
: a member of an indigenous people of the Japanese archipelago, the Kuril Islands, and part of Sakhalin Island
: the language of the Ainu people

Examples of Ainu in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In recent years, as with many Indigenous peoples around the world, the Ainu have begun to reclaim their rights, language, and culture. Helen Schulman, Travel + Leisure, 2 Mar. 2024 For example, Hitoshi Watanabe focused on ethnographic data about the Ainu, an Indigenous population in northern Japan and its surrounding areas. Cara Ocobock, Scientific American, 19 Oct. 2023 The Islands Hall This hall will focus on life and cultures in the South Pacific and the Ainu, an Indigenous people in Japan. Amy Schwabe, Journal Sentinel, 9 May 2023 These include the ancient Greeks, New Zealand’s Maori and the Ainu of northern Japan, a country where the star formation was perceived as comprising six rather than seven visible siblings. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 2 May 2023 Much of Hokkaido’s history and culture is focused on the Indigenous Ainu people, who inhabited the island prior to its colonization during the mid-19th century. Josh Laskin, Condé Nast Traveler, 29 Mar. 2023 The performance symbolized acceptance and gratitude celebrated in the Ainu culture, performer Nakamura Yoshio said through a translator. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 23 Oct. 2022 Along with the African tribespeople, the fair included Inuits, with sled dogs and an igloo; Ainu people, from Japan; more than a thousand Filipinos; and two thousand Native Americans. Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2022 Performance highlights tended to lean on traditional culture: An interpretive dance representing Japan’s indigenous Ainu people and a song sequence referencing Japan’s summer festival of Obon. Patrick Brzeski, Billboard, 8 Aug. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Ainu.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Ainu aynu person

First Known Use

1811, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Ainu was in 1811

Dictionary Entries Near Ainu

Cite this Entry

“Ainu.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

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