nounpl. -·it or -·its
- a member of a group of Eskimos of N North America, inhabiting areas from Greenland and E Canada to Alaska
- the language of this people, belonging to the Eskimo-Aleut language family
- Eskimo (noun): in this sense, Inuit is now the preferred term in Canada
Origin of InuitEskimo inuit, plural of inuk, person, man
- used with a pl. verb The members of various Eskimoan peoples inhabiting the Arctic from northwest Alaska eastward to eastern Greenland, particularly those inhabiting Canada.
- a. The family of languages spoken by the Inuit.b. Any of the languages spoken by the Inuit.
Origin of InuitInuit pl. of inuk human being, Eskimo
Usage Note: The preferred term for the native peoples of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland is now Inuit, and the use of Eskimo in referring to these peoples is often considered offensive, especially in Canada. Inuit is inappropriate, however, when used in reference to speakers of Yupik, the Eskimoan language branch of southwest Alaska and the Siberian Arctic. See Usage Note at Eskimo.
- Inuktitut, the Inuit language.
(comparative more Inuit, superlative most Inuit)
- Of or pertaining to Inuit people, language, or culture.
The northern indigenous peoples of North America used to be called Eskimo, but the term has fallen out of use and is considered offensive in Canada and Greenland, because it was once thought to stem from a pejorative (see Eskimo). Inuit is the accepted term in Canada, and has gained some currency in the United States. However, Eskimo continues to be the prevalent name in Alaska for both the Inuit Inupiat people and the non-Inuit Yupik.
Many dictionaries do not list Inuits as a plural form. Inuit is usually used as an ethnonym with no singular form (like Chinese). The need to treat Inuit as a singular is obviated by wider recognition of its etymological singular form Inuk in recent times.
The Inuit language comprises a continuum of locally-intelligible dialects, with their own variations of the name for themselves and their own language. A number of these names have official status.