In·​u·​it | \ ˈi-n(y)ü-wət How to pronounce Inuit (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of Inuit

1 plural Inuit or Inuits also Innuit or Innuits
a : a group of Indigenous peoples of northern Alaska, arctic Canada, and Greenland used especially for those of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland

Note: In Canada, the name Inuit refers to one of three major, legally recognized groups of aboriginal peoples, the other two being the First Nations and the Métis.

— see also inuk
b : a member of such people
2 : any of the languages of the Inuit

Usage of Eskimo and Inuit

Eskimo is a word that presents challenges for anyone who is concerned about avoiding the use of offensive language. Its offensiveness stems partly from a now-discredited belief that it was originally a pejorative term meaning "eater of raw flesh," but perhaps more significantly from its being a word imposed on aboriginal peoples by outsiders. It has long been considered a word to be avoided in Canada, where the native people refer to themselves as Inuit, a word that means "people" in their language. But not all the native people who are referred to as Eskimos (such as the Yupik people of southwestern Alaska and eastern Siberia) are Inuit. Eskimo has no exact synonym; it has a general meaning that encompasses a number of indigenous peoples, and it continues for now in widespread use in many parts of the English-speaking world.

First Known Use of Inuit

1745, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for Inuit

Inuit inuit, plural of inuk person

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Cite this Entry

“Inuit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for Inuit


In·​u·​it | \ ˈi-nü-wət, -nyü- \
plural Inuit or Inuits

Kids Definition of Inuit

1 : a member of the Eskimo people of the arctic regions of North America
2 : any of the languages of the Inuit people

More from Merriam-Webster on Inuit

Britannica English: Translation of Inuit for Arabic Speakers


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