ab·​orig·​i·​ne ˌa-bə-ˈrij-(ˌ)nē How to pronounce aborigine (audio)
: a member of the original people to inhabit an area especially as contrasted with an invading or colonizing people
often capitalized : a member of any of the indigenous peoples of Australia

Examples of aborigine in a Sentence

a national sport whose origins can be traced to an ancient game first played by the aborigines
Recent Examples on the Web The Guanches were aborigines of the Canary Islands. Jp Mangalindan, Peoplemag, 21 Feb. 2024 Breuil based his conclusions on contemporary anthropological observations of the Arunta aborigines in central Australia. Roger Lewin, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 The bill’s sponsors insisted their motives were not racist, although, one of the sponsors, state Sen. Scott Beason, later recorded himself referring to black people as aborigines while wearing a wire for the FBI. Kyle Whitmire, al, 22 Nov. 2019 For long, appropriation of identities and assets by the privileged has been among the key challenges faced by aborigines across the world. K A Shaji, Quartz India, 30 Aug. 2019 In Kerala, one of India’s most socially advanced states, aborigines form 1.45% of the 33.4 million population (2011 Census), but have remained alienated. K A Shaji, Quartz India, 30 Aug. 2019 Markets just happened among Australian aborigines buying boomerangs from better-skilled bands hundreds of miles distant. Deirdre McCloskey, WSJ, 7 Sep. 2018 The key ingredient is a thorny acacia shrub the aborigines prized for its medicinal properties. Hilda Hoy, Slate Magazine, 8 May 2017 See More

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

Word History


back-formation from aborigines, plural, borrowed from Latin Aborīginēs, a pre-Roman people of Latium

Note: The Latin name was variously interpreted by ancient authors, though modern etymologies tend to claim that the word is a parasynthetic derivative from the phrase ab origine, "from the beginning/first appearance." This would make sense if the word was formed as a generic name for "first inhabitants," though earlier Latin sources (Cato, Varro) treated it as the name of a specific people. According to Serviusʼs commentary on the Aeneid, Virgil intended "Aboriginum reges" in the line "aliique ab origine reges/Martiaque ob patriam pugnando uolnera passi" (Aeneid 7.180) ["others kings by birth, who suffered battle wounds fighting for their country"], " … sed est metro prohibitus" ["but the meter prohibits it"]. The lexical antiquarian Sextus Pompeius Festus, on the other hand, suggests a connection with aberrāre, "to wander off," as does the Origo gentis Romanae (late 4th century a.d.), which also proffers Greek óros, "mountain." None of these etymologies seem probable.

First Known Use

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of aborigine was in 1593

Dictionary Entries Near aborigine

Cite this Entry

“Aborigine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aborigine. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ab·​orig·​i·​ne ˌab-ə-ˈrij-ə-(ˌ)nē How to pronounce aborigine (audio)
: a member of the original people to live in an area : native
often capitalized : a member of any of the native people of Australia

from Latin aborigines "original inhabitants," from ab origine "from the beginning," from origin-, origo "beginning, source," from oriri "to rise" — related to origin

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