/in"dee euhn/, n.
1. Also called American Indian, Amerind, Amerindian, Native American. a member of the aboriginal people of America or of any of the aboriginal North or South American stocks, usually excluding the Eskimos.
2. any of the indigenous languages of the American Indians. Abbr.: Ind
3. a member of any of the peoples native to or inhabiting India or the East Indies.
4. a citizen of the Republic of India.
5. Slang. a person who performs a required task or carries out the instructions of superiors: We have too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
6. Astron. the constellation Indus.
7. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the American Indians or their languages.
8. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of India or the East Indies.
9. made of Indian corn: Indian meal.
10. Zoogeog. oriental (def. 3).
11. Phytogeog. belonging or pertaining to a geographical division comprising India south of the Himalayas, and Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
[1350-1400; < ML Indianus; r. ME Indien < OF < ML as above. See INDIA, -AN]
Usage. Because Christopher Columbus mistakenly believed that the Caribbean island on which he had landed was the subcontinent of India, he called the inhabitants INDIANS. Eventually, that name was applied to almost all the indigenous, non-European inhabitants of North and South America. In modern times INDIAN may refer to an inhabitant of the subcontinent of India or of the East Indies, to a citizen of the Republic of India, or to a member of an aboriginal American people.
In the 18th century the term American Indian came to be used for the aboriginal inhabitants of the United States and Canada; it now includes the aboriginal peoples of South America as well. (When necessary, further distinctions are made with such terms as North American Indian and South American Indian.) The terms Amerindian and Amerind subsequently developed in the attempt to reduce ambiguity. For some, especially among North American Indians, the preferred designation is Native American. All these terms appear in edited writing. Whether one or several will gain ascendancy over the others remains to be seen.
The only pre-European inhabitants of North America to whom INDIAN or other terms using the word INDIAN are not applied are the Eskimos or Inuit. See Eskimo.

* * *

(as used in expressions)
American Indian religions North
American Indian religions South
Indian People's Party
Great Indian Desert
Indian buffalo

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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