ab·​orig·​i·​nal | \ ˌa-bə-ˈrij-nəl How to pronounce aboriginal (audio) , -ˈri-jə-nᵊl\

Definition of aboriginal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : being the first or earliest known of its kind present in a region aboriginal forests aboriginal rocks
2 : of or relating to the people who have been in a region from the earliest time : of or relating to aborigines aboriginal languages aboriginal tribes/customs/art specifically, often capitalized : of or relating to the indigenous peoples of Australia



Definition of aboriginal (Entry 2 of 2)

2 often capitalized : aborigine sense 2

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Other Words from aboriginal


aboriginally adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for aboriginal

Synonyms: Adjective

autochthonous, born, domestic, endemic, indigenous, native

Synonyms: Noun

aborigine, autochthon, indigene (also indigen), native

Antonyms: Adjective

nonindigenous, nonnative

Antonyms: Noun


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Choose the Right Synonym for aboriginal


native, indigenous, endemic, aboriginal mean belonging to a locality. native implies birth or origin in a place or region and may suggest compatibility with it. native tribal customs indigenous applies to that which is not only native but which, as far as can be determined, has never been introduced or brought from elsewhere. indigenous plants endemic implies being peculiar to a region. a disease endemic in Africa aboriginal implies having no known others preceding in occupancy of a particular region. the aboriginal peoples of Australia

Examples of aboriginal in a Sentence


the aboriginal peoples of Australia the aboriginal peoples of northern Alaska are known as Inupiats, which in their language literally means “real people”

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Recent exhibits include Australian aboriginal memorial poles, Georgia O’Keeffe’s camping equipment and an affecting tribute to Chinese immigrant railroad workers in the Sierra Nevada. Washington Post, "Why you should visit Columbus, Ohio," 13 June 2019 Chef/owner Joseph Shawana was raised on an aboriginal reserve on Lake Huron and his menu (minus the Canadian wine selection) comprises foods that would have been available before Europeans arrived. Kris Frieswick, WSJ, "Canada’s City of the Future Rides a New Wave," 4 Dec. 2018 This mashup between a Jack Kerouac road trip and an Australian aboriginal walkabout may have just the right amount of weirdness to keep the former congressman’s millions of social media followers hanging on his every New Age musing. Karl Rove, WSJ, "The Weirdness of American Politics," 23 Jan. 2019 Clean Bandit were the first of several performances representing various Commonwealth nations; the lineup also included North Indian dhol drumming, and a didgeridoo solo by an Australian aboriginal musician. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "You Probably Missed This Adorable Moment Between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry," 11 Mar. 2019 The resort is set on a hillside on St. Ann’s Bay, and its new owners are introducing aboriginal heritage activities (such as drumming nights and bread-making) for their guests. BostonGlobe.com, "Four reasons to relocate to Cape Breton — if only for a few days (five, if you play golf)," 23 May 2018 Many aboriginal restaurants are gaining popularity, including the low-key, cozy KuKum Kitchen in the Davisville district. Kris Frieswick, WSJ, "Canada’s City of the Future Rides a New Wave," 4 Dec. 2018 When oil was discovered there in the 1960s, aboriginal land claims suddenly became inconvenient. Rebecca Nagle, Teen Vogue, "The Violence Against Women Act Doesn't Include the Majority of Alaska Native Women," 29 Nov. 2018 Considered one of the oldest living rainforests in the world, the forest holds a special meaning for the aboriginal Kuku Yalanji people who help guide visitors through the winding paths among the towering trees and jewel-like tropical birds. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Why an Around-the-World Private Jet Trip is the Only Way to Fly," 17 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Those clauses were removed in the 1960s, leaving no mention of aboriginals at all. The Economist, "Australia’s states offer to make treaties with aboriginals," 5 July 2018 These people are too far away to show a direct link between them and the Clovis in such a way that indicates the Clovis being the aboriginals of South America. Adam Rutherford, The Atlantic, "A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas," 3 Oct. 2017 The students paddled and portaged through the park, following the routes once traveled by aboriginals and French-Canadian voyageurs. Daily Southtown, "Community news," 30 Aug. 2017 Our criminals built nice roads in Australia but aboriginals keep using them as a bed. Alan Feuer And Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, "Fringe Groups Revel as Protests Turn Violent," 2 June 2017 Pay up, and the British Navy will keep the Frenchmen, pirates, and aboriginals away. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "We Could Have Been Canada," 15 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aboriginal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aboriginal


1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aboriginal


aborigine + -al entry 1


noun derivative of aboriginal entry 1

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Statistics for aboriginal

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aboriginal

The first known use of aboriginal was in 1650

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More Definitions for aboriginal


ab·​orig·​i·​nal | \ ˌa-bə-ˈri-jə-nᵊl How to pronounce aboriginal (audio) \

Kids Definition of aboriginal

1 : being the first of its kind in a region aboriginal plants
2 : of or relating to the original people living in a region

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Comments on aboriginal

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