Da·​ko·​ta də-ˈkō-tə How to pronounce Dakota (audio)
plural Dakota also Dakotas : a member of an Indigenous people of the northern Mississippi River valley

Note: The Dakota are divided into the Eastern Dakota, also known as Santee, and the Western Dakota, which include the Yankton and Yanktonai. Along with the Lakota people, the Eastern and Western Dakota form part of the Dakota people. In Canada, the Dakota are designated as a First Nation people.

: the Siouan language of the Dakota people

Word History


borrowed from Dakota (Yankton-Yánktonai and Santee dialects) dakhóta, a self-designation

Note: The name dakʰóta, with the variants nakʰóta (used by the Assiniboine and Stoney [a Plains Indian people of Alberta]) and lakʰóta (used by the Lakota or Teton Sioux) has been taken to mean literally "friendly, feeling affection" or "united, allied"; see references in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 13, part 2 (Washington, 2001), p. 750.

First Known Use

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Dakota was in 1804

Dictionary Entries Near Dakota

Cite this Entry

“Dakota.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Dakota. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


Da·​ko·​ta də-ˈkōt-ə How to pronounce Dakota (audio)
plural Dakotas also Dakota
: a member of an American Indian people of the northern Mississippi valley

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Da·​ko·​ta də-ˈkō-tə How to pronounce Dakota (audio)
territory (1861–89) in the northwestern U.S. that was divided in 1889 into the states of North Dakota and South Dakota (the Da*ko*tas \ də-​ˈkō-​təz How to pronounce Dakota (audio) \ )
Dakotan adjective or noun

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