Chinook Jargon Phrasebook
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Food & Domestic Life
Muckamuck pe Mitlite House

Home Life | Clothing etc. | Tools & Implements | Food | Miscellaneous | Non-Jargon Food & Household Words

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Home Life

House - house
Klahanie - outside, the out-of-doors
Window - window
Lapote - door
Lacaset, lacasset - box, chest, casket
Lekley, lakleh - key
Ikpooie - closed.  Ikpooie lakleh - locked
Labadoe - shingle
Kliskwiss - mat
Laplash - floor
Also means a wooden plank or similar object, and is an adjective wide or broad or spread out.
Iktas - things, stuff
i.e. household goods, belongings.  NB Iktah - what, that.  Iktas appears to be a plural form of iktah, i.e. "those things" or "all that".
 

Bed - bed
Latab - table
Opitsah, opitsaht - knife or sweetheart
One of the main villages of the Clayoquot Sound Nuu-chah-nulth was named Opitsaht.
Lapooshet - fork
Also opitsaht yakka sikhs - "the knife's friend"
Spoon - spoon
Lasset, lassiet - plate, from l'assiette
Labooti - bottle, from la bouteille
Lapoel - pan, frying pan, from la poele
Malah - tinware, crockery, earthenware
Kettle, ketling, kitling - kettle, pan, basin
Opekwan - a basket or tin kettle
Why the word for "tin kettle" derived from that for "basket" may be because tightly-woven baskets were often used for boiling vessels, and were made especially for this purpose.  Certain tribes - notably the Lakes Lillooet of Seton Lake - were renowned for their craft at making watertight woven-coil baskets of certain grasses and rushes.
Ooskan - a cup or bowl
Tamolitsh, tamolitch - tub, barrel, washtub
Wagh - to pour, to pour out, also means empty (as does weght)
Wash - wash
Soap - soap
Stick - stick, wood, firewood
Pish or piah - fire. Note pish is also "fish"; it is believed this rendering was typographical in published lexicons for settlers, and so came into use as a mistake
Lapellah - roasted, i.e. over a fire. Mamook lapellah - to roast, to cook over a fire
Liplip - boil

Lashandel - candle, lamp, from la chandaille, la chandelle
Moosum - sleep, to sleep.  Olo moosum - sleepy ("hungry for sleep")
Get-up - to rise, risen, to wake up
Shelokum - mirror, looking glass
Mamook shelokum - to preen, to be vain
Comb - comb
Mamook comb - to comb one's hair.

Mahlie - married, to marry
Mitlite - to reside, to live, to be
Kokshut - break, broken
Mamook kloshe - fix, make better, heal, mend

 

Clothing etc.

Kehsee, kisu - apron
Lasanjel - belt, sash, girdle
I am uncertain as to whether this refers to the sash that is the hallmark of the voyageur, or to the priestly girdle of a cleric; it may refer to both.
Mitass - leggings
Gibbs says Anderson credits the voyageurs with introducing this word into the Northwest; it may be of Michif origin or Cree of Ojibway.
Sakolleks - trousers, leggings, pantaloons. Keekwullie sakolleks - drawers, underpants, longjohns
Kalakwahtie, kallakwatie, yelakwat - petticoast or skirt
The Indian variety worn by women was made of strands of bark.  Kalakwahtie also meant the under-bark or cambium of the cedar, a soft substance used in the making of pre-Contact fabrics.  Some tree cambium was also a food-source.  Kalakwahtie stick - cedar.
Shoes - shoes
Shoes keepwot - an awl
Stocken - stockings, socks
Kushis - stockings, any elastic article of dress
Opoots sill - breechclout ("rear end saddle" or "ass silk")
Lawest - vest

Blanket- blanket
The finely-milled Hudson's Bay Blanket, usually cream in colour with three stripes of red, green and brown was a mainstay of the fur trade and is still a highly prized domestic item.  They were often used to make coats - and still are.
Paseese, paseesie - blanket, woollen cloth
This word is the source of the term used for the French Canadian fur company employees, and for Frenchmen in general (pasiooks), i.e. "those who brought cloth".
Skin lope - a thong of leather or rawhide, a lariat, etc.
Lawet, lawhet - whip
Lapel - fur, hide, skin
Skin - skin, hide

Lesac, lesak - sack, bag
Laswah, lasway, sill - silk, silken
Sill can also mean calico.
Tzum sill - printed calico, i.e. spotted cloth, marked cloth
Leloba - ribbon
Spatsum, spuzzum - reeds or grass, rushes, as used in basketry
Tupsshin, tupshin - needle, awl
Keepwot- hook, needle, awl
Kwekwiens - pin
Kweokweo - a ring, a circle; distinct from lo'lo or lowullo, which can be used to mean a circle of something, i.e. of people
Tupsin, tupshin - needle
Mamook tupsin - to sew, to mend, to patch.  NB similarity to tupso - grass, leaves, blade of grass
Leseezo - scissors
Tshish, chish - to sharpen, sharp, sharpened
NB different from tshiss, tshis - a word used for "cold" in the Chinook language area of the Lower Columbia.
Tenas lope - cord, twine
Klapite - thread, twine
Keepwot, kipwot - needle, thorn, sting of an insect.  Shoes keepwot - an awl used in shoe-making and leatherwork.
Kamosuk, Camosuck, camosun - beads
Tyee Camosuck - the best-quality large blue glass beads, imported by fur traders as a trade commodity; most originated in a certain town in Moravia in today's Czech Republic.  Note that camosun also referred to the camas plant/food, and was the original name of the region around Victoria harbour, where these plants grew in abundance - but also which was a major trading centre.
Tsil-tsil, chil-chil, dil-dil - buttons (also stars)

 

Tools & Implements

Note that many of these words are of French origin, the voyageurs being the ones who introduced them into the region as trade-goods.

Ik-kik - fish-hook
Lahash - axe or hatchet
Lapelle - shovel or spade
Lapeosh - mattock or hoe
Lashaloo, lashalee - a plough
Lalim, laleem - a file
Lasee - a saw
Lagwin, lakween - a saw
Lekloo, lakloo - nail
Lamahto - hammer
Lashen - chain
NB also known to be used for "dog".

Mamook tsugh - to split (to make broken, to make as if plowed)
Mamook tusgh illahee - to plow the land

Opitlkegh - a bow
Kalitan - an arrow, shot, or bullet
Kalitan lesak - a quiver
Kalipeen - carabine, any rifle
Musket - musket

Lagome - gum, pitch, glue
As in the pitch used in mending boats and canoes.

Klawhap, Tlwhop - a hole
Mamook klawhap - to dig a hole.

 

Food

See also Critters and Money, Trade & Travel.

Muckamuck, mukmuk - food, eat, dinner
Mamook muckamuck - to cook, to prepare food, to serve food. Hiyu muckamuck - plenty to eat, enough for all. Hyas muckamuck - a feast, a formal dinner.  High muckamuck - a popular corruption of hyas muckamuck, meaning "one who sits at the head table", i.e. an official, a bigshot, or a VIP.
Piah - fire, ripe, cooked
Mamook piah - to cook, to burn.  Wake piah - raw.
Lum - rum, booze, alcohol in general
Chuck - water, fluids
Olo chuck ("hungry for water") or halo chuck - thirsty.  Tikegh chuck, iskum chuck - drink.
Salt, sel, lasel - salt
Suk, shugah, shukwah, lesuk - sugar
Tsee - sweet
Jewitt mentions the use of the word chamass, a variant of camas, as meaning "sweet" or "pleasant to the taste", among the Nootka.
Klil, klilh, klilt, klitl - bitter, also sour
Kwets, kwates - sour
Poolie - rotten
Accent is on the second syllable.
Tatoosh - milk, butter.  Also means breasts or chest.
Tatoosh glease - a more specific word for butter.
Kaupy, kopi - coffee
Lateh, tee - tea

Lice - rice
Lawhen - oats
Sapolill, sapolil, sapolillie - wheat, flour
NB this word is distinct from sapolallie/sopalallie, the soapberry, but originally dried soapberries were crushed into a flour-like powder, which may be the origin of this usage in reference to grain flour as we know it.  Lolo sapolill - whole wheat. Lawhen sapolill - oat flour.  NB different from sapolallie - berries.
Esalth, yesalth - Indian corn or maize
This is a Kalapuya word.  Maize would have been largely unknown north of the Columbia.  Once corn was introduced by settlers, the word corn would have been used.
Labiskwee - biscuit
Bannock - bread (pan-fried).  Not exactly a Jargon word, but well-known in the region; introduced by the Scots in the fur company employ and still widely popular with native peoples.  Basically an unsweetened, very greasy deep-fried pancake.
Lapan - bread, from le pain
Gibbs says this refers to raised or light bread, as opposed to hardtack or other types.  I am uncertain, however, as to whether the bread referred to by this word may be bannock, which was the staple of the French-speaking voyageurs of the fur trade era and has since become a staple of native peoples throughout British Columbia.  Bannock (the word is Scots in origin) is a virtually deep-fried bread made in a frying pan with flour, water, and salt (and, of course, lots of oil).
Wapato, wapatoo - Potato
Originally the Indian potato, the camas or others of the lily-root varieties, but later applied to the domestic potato.
Camas, also lakamass and camosun - a lily whose scientific designation is scilla esculente (succulent lily).
Camas was a major food staple of all Plateau and coastal lowland peoples, providing a tender, sweet root-corm something like a small potato. Its stalks were also edible when young. Camas-gathering was an important time of year, with whole families following the woman to the special localities where it grew in each area. There are various other lily-roots and other edible greens gathered for food, including a wild onion, Indian cabbage, Indian rhubarb (hakwahk), Indian mustard as well as the Indian potato or wapato. Note that the original name for the Victoria harbour area was Camosun, where these plants grew in abundance (described by Cook as a "perfect little Eden" because of its relatively dry and warm climate).  Camosun can also mean the same as Camosack, i.e. beads used in trade.  The lakamass variant is a French-Chinook hybrid term.
Melas - molasses, syrup
Glease - grease
Also from the French as lakles, from la graisse. Although the English loan-word became a generic term for greases, it also became used for "oolichan grease", the highly-prized rotten-mash preserve made from oolichans was one of the most widely-traded products in the native economy. Trade routes were often marked by grease drippings as a result of centuries of deposition. Grease was used in cooking and was a fixture on any well-laid native table. Recipes for the preserve vary from tribe to tribe and family to family and are jealously guarded, and tastes vary widely across the region and within communities as well. Made from months-long decomposition of the oily fish, and treated according to a variety of methods for preservation and before consumption, oolichan grease goes by many names but is invariably high-smelling and difficult for the non-native palate. Its aficionados, however, maintain that it varies in quality and sophistication as much as wine or other cuisines.  Tatoosh glease - butter. Hiyu glease - very fat, really greasy.

Lacalat - carrot
Lapool - chicken, fowl, poultry
Lacock, lekok - rooster, cock
Lezep, lesap - eggs
Itliwillie - flesh, meat, muscle
Lejam itlwillie - leg muscle. mahkook itliwille - buy/sell meat.  The meat of all animals was referred to simply by the name for the animal; hence mowitch referred both to deer, and to venison. Itlwillie sick - bruised or sore flesh or muscles.
Lomooto, lemotoo - mutton, sheep
As in French and with animal-words, this word refers to both this animal and its meat.
Cosho, gosho, lacosho, lagosho - pork, hog
As in French and with animal-words, this word refers to both this animal and its meat.
Kiyah, kaiyah - entrails, innards
Yakwahtin, kwahtin - entrails, the belly, the torso
Lakutchee, lakwitchee - clams
Ona - clams, presumably another kind.  Geoduck or gooeyduck is a very large local clam; not a Jargon word officially but probably in use.
Toluks - mussels
Klo-klo - oysters
Pish - fish. NB Pish is also "fire"
Please refer to the Critters page for specific kinds and varieties of fish.

Salal, sallal, shalal - the salal berry and its plant, one of the many berries harvested for food by NW peoples
Olallie, olillie - berries, berry
There were many kinds of berries harvested throughout the Northwest. This word was used in some areas for a particular berry, and in others for berries in general. Aside from salal Oregon Jack, the huckleberry-like soapberry called xoosum (in Salish, the "x" is "h"; see below), which can be prepared a variety of ways, was an important staple throughout areas in which it grew.
Klikamuks - blackberries, dewberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries
In Coastal regions, the raspberry-like salmonberry was an important and abundant food. Since Contact, blackberries and other vines were introduced to the region, in whose wet and mild climate the blackberry has prospered. In many large areas they have taken over from the original vegetation (from any vegetation) .
Shot olallie, shot olillie - huckleberries (small, shot-sized berries)
Sapolallie, sopalallie - a certain kind of berry and its bush, usually the soapberry (xoosum - see next)
NB different from sapolill, sapoleel - flour.
Amote - the strawberry
Wild strawberries are common in many regions of the Northwest.  This was the word on the Lower Columbia; there may have been other terms in other areas.
Lapome - apple
Apples were introduced into the Northwest early on into the 19th Century, both coastal and plateau regions being ideal climates for temperate fruits. I have not seen other Chinook words for fruits, but if any were used they probably would have been French loanwords, as cherries, apricots, peaches and other fruits were planted widely in the Oregon Territory, and then in BC. I suspect that fruit trees may have been trade goods during the fur trade era, accounting for a French origin for the word for "apple", rather than an English one.
Powitch, powitsh - crab-apple
These may have been wild on the Lower Columbia before Contact, which would be why this word is of Chinook origin.
Tukwila, tukwilla - nuts, specifically hazelnuts.  Most other nuts, e.g. walnuts, chestnuts, were introduced; a variety of hazelnuts are indigenous.
Kahnaway - acorn.  Kahnaway stick - oak, oak-tree
NB different from konaway - the whole thing, everything; the 'h' is pronounced, presumably.

 

Miscellaneous

Kinootl, kinoos, also snoos- tobacco, including Indian tobacco or jimsum weed.
The English loan-word tobacco and the French loan-word tabak were also used.  Snoos is still in use in English in the region today for chewing tobacco and snuff.
Lahb - another smokeable plant, the leaves of the arbutus species uva ursi (bear berry), from l'herbe or l'arbre.
Kinnikinnick - another smokeable plant, related to the uva ursi.
Not purely a jargon word, but in wide use in the Interior Plateau of BC.  Kinnikinnick is a mild stimulant, and can produce feelings of dizziness or drunkenness.
Lapeep, lepeep - pipe, as in a smoking pipe, from la pipe

Book - book
Sagalie book - The Bible, lit. "high-up book"; the term saghalie came to mean sacred due to its association with the term Saghalie Tyee for God or the Great Spirit; it is believed to have been coined as such by missionaries.
Lacloa - the Cross
Laplet - priest
Lejaub, lejab - the Devil
Lamess, lamesse - the Catholic ceremony of the Mass

Rancherie - Accent on the last syllable
Not strictly a Jargon word, but probably used by Jargon-speakers, especially in BC. Means the residential section of an Indian reserve, a native village. The Kanaka Rancherie on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver was a Hawaiian settlement.  May have its origin in the French l'orangerie - an orchard or garden, or from Spanish rancheria, the labourers' residential part of a rancho.
Kullaghan, Kullagh - fence, wall
This appears to be an Irish name - Callaghan, perhaps one of an early settler who built one of the first fences in the region.
Tupso, Tuhso - grass, pasture
Sometimes used to mean hair, although Gibbs says this meaning is incorrect.

 

Non-Jargon Food & Household Words

I will be adding a lexicon of the names of native foodstuffs over time that are not necessarily jargon words, but would have been used by jargon speakers, and will cite the language and/or region of origin.  I would appreciate contributions here from any language of the region, or from local English usages - please email me if you have anything to add.

Hakwa7 - Indian rhubarb in St'at'imcets (Lillooet).  A favourite vegetable in areas where it is found (the "7" is a glottal stop)
Xoosum or hoosum - the soapberry and its juice
From Salishan "xoosum".  Soapberries resemble huckleberries, and when whipped make a froth something like soap suds.  This substance is known as "Indian ice cream" and like the juice is actually quite tasty.  Soapberries are fairly sweet but have a slightly bitter taste, and are highly regarded as a tonic. They were also dried and ground up into a flour.

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