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*Inuit Vocabulary

Dear Friends,

If you have ever discussed words such as, Kayak, Igloo or Parka, you have used Inuit words without being aware!

For your interest, I have provided a brief list of commonly used Inuit words.

Parka and Clothing

Amautiq ~ Within the traditional parka of an Inuit woman is a pouch under an enlarged hood designed carry her baby. The word originates from the root 'amaq' which means 'to carry'. The amautiq was traditionally worn by every woman regardless of marital status. In wearing the amautiq, young women took on the symbol responsibility of raising the next generation. Usually sewn from caribou and seal fur.

Amariik ~ Refers to both mother and baby carried in her amautiq

Atigi ~ Inner layer of the parka

Kamiks ~ Arctic snow boots made from animal skins such as seal

Kinik ~ Front flap on a woman's parka

Nasaq ~ Hood

Parka ~ Aleutian term meaning 'fur jacket with hood'

Tunu ~ Back of the parka


Ani ~ Brother

Aniapik ~ Little Brother

Annana ~ Mother

Anaanatchia ~ Grandmother

Ataata ~ Father

Ataatatchia ~ Grandfather

Inuit ~ The people

Inuk ~ One person

Irni ~ Son

Nukariik ~ Sisters

Pani ~ Daughter

Pani-lah ~ Youngest daughter

Piaraq ~ Baby

Piqati ~ Friend


Inukshuk ~ Rocks piled in figure like shapes; used to designate various meanings, for example, good hunting areas

Paniik ~ Slippers

Qamutiik ~ Traditionally a dog sled, made from whatever materials were available, such as whale bone, driftwood, ivory or antler.

Qulliq ~ Also, called Kudlik, a stone lamp, carved from soapstone (by men) and used to heat the igloo and warm food.

Sedna ~ The Inuit Sea Goddess, half woman, half sea creature, also known as Nuliajuk

Tupiq ~ Summer tents made of seal or caribou skins

Ulu ~ Women's curved knife used to skin and scrape skins and cut meat

Umiak ~ Large, skin covered boat able to carry several people for hunting and migration


Aqiggi ~ Ptarmigan

Iqaluk ~ Fish

Iqaluit ~ Place of many fish

Tuttuk ~ Caribou


Inuktitut ~ The Inuit language consisting of six distinct regional dialects. Inuktituk was an oral language until the 1870's when clergy living among the Inuit used syllabics to create a written form.

Nunavut ~ Formally established in April 1, 1999, this area was designated as a self-governed Inuit territory.


Atii ~ Let's go!

Eehhh ~ Yes

If you want to say no, just wrinkle your nose!

Nakuqmiik ~ Thank you

Nalligivagit ~ Love you

Summa ~ Why?

Suvi ~ What's going on?

Interested in more Inuit words?

Your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Please contact:

Elisabeth Gelb
North Star Inuit Gallery
Box 305, Yellowknife,
NT, X1A 2N3

Tel: 867-444-6936

"We're not just a gallery, we live in the North."