Cha·​mor·​ro chə-ˈmȯr-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce Chamorro (audio)
plural Chamorro or Chamorros
: a member of a people of the Mariana Islands
: the language of the Chamorro people

Examples of Chamorro in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Traffic violations Nikole Chamorro, 25, of the 3900 block of Armitage Avenue, Chicago, was arrested June 22 for speeding 70 mph in a 35 mph zone at the intersection of North Harlem and Albion Avenues, police said. Chicago Tribune, 29 June 2023 Today, following centuries of rule and suppression by the Spanish, Japanese, and Americans, the Chamorro language has fewer than 50,000 native speakers. Lenika Cruz, The Atlantic, 1 Aug. 2022 The very competent organizational psychologist Tomas Chamorro Premuzic joined the 3 Takeaways podcast to explain why incompetent and overconfident men are so often anointed leaders. Bylila MacLellan, Fortune, 20 June 2023 The site features a map of the United States, divided into time zones, as well as a variety of subsidiary clock displays (Chamorro Standard Time, Aleutian Standard Time) that ticked, at the second level, in seeming synchrony. Tom Vanderbilt, Harper's Magazine, 13 Mar. 2023 The storied Nicaraguan daily La Prensa, edited by generations of the Chamorro family, left the country in 2022 after its publisher and journalists were imprisoned or harassed by the government of Daniel Ortega. Alejandra Ibarra Chaoul, Washington Post, 15 May 2023

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

Word History


borrowed from Spanish chamorro, probably borrowed from Chamorro chamorri "member of the highest social class in precolonial Chamorro society"

Note: The history of this word is still in need of complete elucidation. The earliest record of the language of the Mariana Islands was made by Estevan Rodríguez, a pilot on one of the ships commanded by Miguel López de Legazpi that, after touching on Guam, began colonization of the Philippines in 1565. Rodríguez listed 67 Chamorro words with their Spanish meaning (see Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones españolas de ultramar, 2. serie, tomo 2:1, De las Islas Filipinas [Madrid, 1886], pp. 392-93; and Rafael Rodríguez-Ponga, "El primer vocabulario de la lengua de las Islas Marianas," Archivo Augustiniano, vol. 95, no. 213 [2011], pp. 445-60). The pilot Rodríguez records chamor with the meaning "friend" (amigo), and earlier relates an encounter with a group of men who attempted to board their craft "dichiendo: chamurre, chamurre, que quiere decir: amigos, amigos; y trayendo la mano por al barriga que es señal de amistad" ("saying 'chamurre, chamurre,' that is to say, 'friends, friends,' and bringing the hand over the stomach, which is a sign of friendship"). It was apparently this word that was used in the name "Islas de los Chamurres o Ladrones" ("Islands of the Chamurres or Thieves"), which is recorded in another document of the Legazpi expedition for the islands later renamed Marianas (see Colección de documentos inéditos … tomo 3:2, p. 227). A century later a nearly homonymous word chamorri is recorded, but with a different sense; in a chronicle of the Jesuit mission to the Mariana Islands in 1669-70, the chamorris are the highest social class among the Indigenous inhabitants: "No se casará uno de los Principales, llamados Chamorris, con la hija de un Pleveyo, aunque este sea muy rico, y el muy pobre, y necesitado … y antiguamente matauan los parientes al Noble, que se casaua con la hija de un Pleveyo." ("One of the highest class, called by them Chamorris, will not marry the daughter of a plebeian, be her father ever so rich and he ever so poor and needy … and formerly the noble who married the daughter of a plebeian was killed by his relatives," from an anonymous pamphlet Noticia de los Progressos de nuestra Santa Fe, en las Islas Marianas … desde de 15. de Mayo de 1669, hasta 28 de Abril de 1670, sacada de las cartas, que ha escrito el Padre Diego Luis de Sanvitores, y sus Compañeros [place and date of printing unknown], p. 4; see Mission in the Marianas: An Account of Father Diego Luis de Sanvítores and His Companions, 1669-1670, translated by Ward Barrett [Minneapolis, 1975], p. 22.) It seems improbable that the Chamurres "amigos" of the 1565 encounter could have been a misunderstanding of the Chamorris "principales" of the Jesuit narrative, though it is equally improbable that the two words are unrelated. Muddying the picture further is a Spanish word chamorro "having closely cropped hair," which may in some way have contributed to the acceptance of chamorro as the name for a people.

First Known Use

1847, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Chamorro was in 1847

Dictionary Entries Near Chamorro

Cite this Entry

“Chamorro.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Biographical Definition


biographical name

Cha·​mor·​ro chä-ˈmȯr-rō How to pronounce Chamorro (audio)
Violeta Barrios de 1929–     president of Nicaragua (1990–97)

More from Merriam-Webster on Chamorro

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