ab·​orig·​i·​ne | \ ˌa-bə-ˈrij-(ˌ)nē How to pronounce aborigine (audio) , -ˈri-jə-\

Definition of aborigine

1 : a member of the original people to inhabit an area especially as contrasted with an invading or colonizing people
2 often capitalized : a member of any of the indigenous peoples of Australia

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for aborigine


aboriginal, autochthon, indigene (also indigen), native



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of aborigine in a Sentence

the aborigines had no immunity against the raft of diseases brought by the invaders

Recent Examples on the Web

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, "Tribals in India’s Kerala are protesting against a Hindu name given to a captured elephant," 30 Aug. 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, "In a tribal corner of India, two worlds are clashing over an elephant—and his name," 28 Aug. 2019 Markets just happened among Australian aborigines buying boomerangs from better-skilled bands hundreds of miles distant. Deirdre Mccloskey, WSJ, "‘Adam Smith: Father of Economics’ Review: Obvious, Simple and Wise," 7 Sep. 2018 The key ingredient is a thorny acacia shrub the aborigines prized for its medicinal properties. Hilda Hoy, Slate Magazine, "Aboriginal restaurants in rural Taiwan are dishing up chicken with a side of identity politics.," 8 May 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of aborigine

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aborigine

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aborigine

Dictionary Entries near aborigine








Statistics for aborigine

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aborigine

The first known use of aborigine was in 1593

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for aborigine


ab·​orig·​i·​ne | \ ˌa-bə-ˈri-jə-nē How to pronounce aborigine (audio) \
plural aborigines

Kids Definition of aborigine

: a member of the original people living in a region : native

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on aborigine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aborigine

Spanish Central: Translation of aborigine

Nglish: Translation of aborigine for Spanish Speakers

Comments on aborigine

What made you want to look up aborigine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!