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ab·​orig·​i·​nal ˌa-bə-ˈrij-nəl How to pronounce aboriginal (audio)
: being the first or earliest known of its kind present in a region
aboriginal forests
aboriginal rocks
: 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
aboriginally adverb


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often capitalized : aborigine sense 2
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

Adjective 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
An amalgamation of two existing hotels – both completely renovated – the resort sits on the land of the Larrakia Nation, which takes center stage in the décor, with aboriginal art all over the resort (including vast outdoor murals) and villas named after Territorians. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 5 Jan. 2024 Before the colonization of Australia, many aboriginal people buried dingoes with rites indistinguishable from those used for humans. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 13 Dec. 2023 As Jackman’s Drover tells the audience early in the film and series, the aboriginal practice when someone dies is to never speak their name again. Hunter Ingram, Variety, 26 Nov. 2023 The only race not found in Africa is the aboriginal Australians and their relatives. Jared Diamond, Discover Magazine, 17 Apr. 2023 The forests also are culturally important to several million people who call them home, such as Canada’s aboriginal communities. David J. Cooper, The Conversation, 3 Nov. 2023 And Google recently had to implement stringent privacy protections before reintroducing StreetView in Germany and acquiesce to removing imagery from Google Maps of an aboriginal sacred site after the native tribe complained to the Australian government. WIRED, 3 Oct. 2023 Inspired by an ancient aboriginal recipe used by Australian tribe members for years, this supplement will help you with every aspect of your perfect vision and clear eyesight. Discover Magazine, 30 June 2023 His sisters are at a wedding, and his father is working the fields with his aboriginal farmhand. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 21 Feb. 2023
Those clauses were removed in the 1960s, leaving no mention of aboriginals at all. The Economist, 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, 3 Oct. 2017 The students paddled and portaged through the park, following the routes once traveled by aboriginals and French-Canadian voyageurs. Daily Southtown, 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, 2 June 2017 Pay up, and the British Navy will keep the Frenchmen, pirates, and aboriginals away. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 15 May 2017 See More

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

Word History



aborigine + -al entry 1


noun derivative of aboriginal entry 1

First Known Use


1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of aboriginal was in 1650

Dictionary Entries Near aboriginal

Cite this Entry

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

Kids Definition


: being the first of its kind in a region : indigenous
: of, relating to, or being aborigines

More from Merriam-Webster on aboriginal

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