wam·​pum | \ ˈwäm-pəm How to pronounce wampum (audio) \

Definition of wampum

1 : beads of polished shells strung in strands, belts, or sashes and used by North American Indians as money, ceremonial pledges, and ornaments
2 dated, informal : money

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Synonyms for wampum


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Examples of wampum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The tribute would have taken the form of wampum, or shell beads, that New England Indians manufactured from local quahog (in the case of purple beads) and periwinkle and whelk (in the case of white beads). National Geographic, "Massasoit's strategic diplomacy kept peace with the Pilgrims for decades," 19 Nov. 2020 The findings also point out the settlers routinely traded with the Wangunk and Pequot people, as evidenced by the wampum. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Recently discovered trove of artifacts ‘changing the narrative of Connecticut history’," 16 Nov. 2020 More than 50 of the treaties are written on large sheets of parchment; several contain drawings, maps and wampum, or decorative beads used as currency in some Native American tribes. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hundreds of Native American Treaties Digitized for the First Time," 15 Oct. 2020 What’s the difference in intrinsic value between wampum and gold? Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "Why do humans turn to gold in times of crisis? It's just metal," 28 Aug. 2020 One aim is to raise awareness about the missing wampum belt from the 17th century belonging to a Wampanoag chief known as Metacom. Tanya Mohn, New York Times, "A Fresh Take on the Mayflower’s History," 10 Mar. 2020 The Iroquois documented the border on their wampum as a white line between two black ones. Porter Fox, Outside Online, "Exploring America's Forgotten Border," 1 June 2018 Grinding corn and making No-Ke-Hick to eat, making wampum belts, studying pelts, tracking animals, and trying their hand at hunting games gave the kids a taste of what life might have been like for indigenous people hundreds of years ago. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Learning About Native Americans At Pomfret Audubon Center," 24 Apr. 2018 Look at the aboriginal ways, from visual expression to the wampum belt, dances and oral storytelling. Catherine Porter, New York Times, "A College Built for Canadian Settlers Envisions an Indigenous Future," 19 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wampum.' 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 wampum

1636, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wampum

short for wampumpeag

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Time Traveler for wampum

Time Traveler

The first known use of wampum was in 1636

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Statistics for wampum

Last Updated

28 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wampum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wampum. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce wampum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wampum

: beads, polished shells, etc., used in the past by Native Americans as money and decorations


wam·​pum | \ ˈwäm-pəm How to pronounce wampum (audio) \

Kids Definition of wampum

: beads made of shells and once used for money or ornament by North American Indians

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