Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)



The most northern peoples of America, Canada and Greenland were given the name 'Eskimo' meaning 'flesh-eaters' because of their diet which consisted almost exclusively of meat, but this is now considered derogatory. The word 'Inuit' means 'people' in their own language.

Northwest Territories


Baffin Island, Queen Elizabeth Islands, Victoria Island, Banks Island, Ellesmere Island, Prine of Wales Island, Southampton Island and the north Canadian mainland

Many placenames in the north are those of the European explorers who first reached them (Baffin, Frobisher, Mackenzie, Franklin) or of royalty of the time but the greater degree of administrative control now being given to the Inuit has led to places being given native names. The eastern part of the Northwest Territories of Canada is now called 'Nunavut' which means 'Our Land' in the Inuit language

In May 1992, an Inuit self-governing homeland was given approval by the electorate of the North West Territories and a new local government system with Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) as the regional capital was established.


This is territorially the largest state of the USA, separated from the rest of the country by British Columbia a part of Canada. In prehistoric times, it was joined to Asia by the Bering land bridge and groups of American Indians crossed it from 60 000 to 15 000 years ago. Around 2000 BC, the Eskimo began to settle the Arctic coast from Siberiaand the Aleuts settled the Aleutian Islands from about 1000 BC.

In 1741, Vitus Bering became the first European to visit Alaska which was a Russian colony from 1744 to 1867 when it was bought by the USA for $7 200 000. Gold was discovered in 1872, European settlerments began to increase and it eventually became a US state in 1959.


(Groenlandia, Kalaalit Nunaat)

Capital: Godth¯ b

This large island was first settled by peoples from the North American Arctic, probably not long before the first European, the Norwegian outlaw Erik the Red, arrived in 982 and founded colonies on the west coast. His son, Leif Ericsson, reached North America, which he called Vinland because there were vines there and in 1963, the remains of a Viking settlement of the right date were discovered in Newfoundland.

The Viking colonies began be converted to Christianity from around the year 1000. In 1261, they accepted Norwegian sovereignty but communication with Europe stopped during the C15th and by the C16th, all the colonies had died out and the Eskimos, as they were then known, had moved to the East coast.

Greenland became a Danish colony in the C18th and remains a Danish possesson although it has had full internal self government since 1981.

Inuit Names

Traditionally, children were often named after relatives who had died as this was believed to help relieve the sorrow felt for their loss and to allow their spirit to remain alive. Names of living people were also used as a mark of respect and to provide links between generations. They might even influence a child's personality as many comparisons with the namesake would be made. Names were often chosen after the dead person appeared to the parents in a dream. If a child cried a lot and was sickly, it could mean that the spirit of someone who had died wanted the child to be named after it. Meanings are less important than the name itself.


Abumchuk Adamee Aisivak Akalayok Arwela Baral
Hanseeraq Itukuchuk Loseeosee Nanook Norsaq Nuqaq
Qayak Tanuchulk Tuma Tusilartoq Ulloriannguaq  


Liak Millaaraq Noayak      


Aglukark Aipellee Aknavigak Ihorcheak Kabvitok Kaludjak
Kilabuk Kusugak Makigak Nutaraq Paniyuk Pilakapsi
Qavuvu Sammurtok Saumik Suwaksiork Tologanak Tselihye
Ulujuk Umingmak Qaavigaaq      

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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