A string of white and black beads made from shells is an example of wampum.
- small beads made of shells and used by North American Indians as money, for ornament, etc.: they were of two varieties, white and the more valuable black (or dark purple)
- Slang money
Origin of wampumearlier wampompeag from Massachusett (cf. Abenaki w?p?p?yak, wampum strings from w?p-, white + -?pi, string + -ak, plural )
- Small cylindrical beads made from polished shells and fashioned into strings or belts, formerly used by certain Native American peoples as currency and jewelry or for ceremonial exchanges between groups. Also called peag .
- Informal Money.
Origin of wampumShort for wampumpeag
(plural wampums or wampum)
From wampumpeag (from Narragansett), due to Europeans' mistaken interpretation of the term as a compound of "˜wampum' + "˜peag'; it is, in fact, a compound of wamp, wompi (“white") + umpe (“string") + -ag (plural suffix), in reference to the string of white shell-beads and not the individual beads.