A member of any of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The ancestors of the Native Americans are generally considered by scientists to have entered the Americas from Asia by way of the Bering Strait sometime during the late glacial epoch.
Native American adj.
Usage Note: Native American is now fully established in American English as an equivalent of Indian, being acceptable in all contemporary contexts and preferred in many. It is especially appropriate as a term of respect used by outsiders, who may have concerns that Indian could cause offense by its association with longstanding cultural stereotypes. Native American is the clear choice in many formal contexts, not only because it indicates respect but, more pragmatically, because it avoids any ambiguity between indigenous American peoples and the inhabitants of India. But despite its wide acceptance, Native American has not displaced Indian to any significant degree outside of formal contexts, and it is now common to find the two terms used interchangeably in the same piece of writing. Furthermore, the issue of which term to use has never been particularly divisive between Indians and non-Indians. While generally welcoming the respectful tone of Native American, most Indian writers have continued to use Indian at least as often. · Native American and Indian are not exact equivalents when referring to the indigenous peoples of Canada and Alaska. Native American, the broader term, is properly used of all such peoples, whereas Indian is customarily used of the northern Athabaskan and Algonquian peoples in contrast to the Inuit and the Yupik. Alaska Native (or less commonly Native Alaskan) is also properly used of all indigenous peoples residing in Alaska. See Usage Notes at American Indian, First Nation, Indian.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.