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Nov 22, 2011
This week's theme
Words borrowed from languages that are now extinct

This week's words
cacique
wampum
pharaoh
mantissa
dragoman

wampum
Wampum beads
Photo: Stephen Lang
(Source: AINS/NMAI)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

wampum

PRONUNCIATION:
(WOM-puhm)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Beads made from shells, strung in strands, belts, etc. used for ceremonial purposes, jewelry, and money.
2. Money.

ETYMOLOGY:
Short for Massachusett wampompeag, from wampan (white) + api (string) + -ag, plural suffix. Massachusett, now extinct, was a member of the Algonquian language family spoken in the US and Canada. Earliest documented use: 1636.

USAGE:
"As GE Chairman Jack Welch said in a talk, 'We've got to get more wampum. That means we've got to have more dot.coms.'"
Allan Sloan; Companies Creating New Coin In Push to Enter the Internet Realm; Washington Post; Jul 20, 1999.

See more usage examples of wampum in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
All great truths begin as blasphemies. -George Bernard Shaw, writer, Nobel laureate (1856-1950)

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