- pl. -·kees· or -·kee· a member of a North American Indian people formerly inhabiting a large area of the S Appalachian Mountains, now living in Oklahoma and North Carolina
- the Iroquoian language of this people
Origin of Cherokeefrom extinct dialect, dialectal form of Cherokee tsalaki, a self-designation
nounpl. Cherokee, or Cher·o·kees
- A member of a Native American people formerly inhabiting the southern Appalachian Mountains from the western Carolinas and eastern Tennessee to northern Georgia, with present-day populations in northeast Oklahoma and western North Carolina. The Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory in the 1830s after conflict with American settlers over rights to traditional lands.
- The Iroquoian language of the Cherokee.
Origin of CherokeeFrom Cherokee tsalaki
- A member of this people.
Most likely from the Cherokee autonym ᏣᎳᎩ (tsalagi). Derivation from a Choctaw exonym meaning "those who live in caves" (compare chiluk (“cave”)) has also been suggested — the Iroquois term for the Cherokee was Oyata'ge'ronon (“inhabitants of the cave country”) — as has derivation from a Creek term for "person(s) who speak(s) a non-Creek language" (see celokketv (“to speak a non-creek language”)).
Whatever its origin, the ethnonym entered European languages at an early date, perhaps as early as the 1670s; in Spanish, the people are called the Tchalaquei as early as 1755.