AskDefine | Define sachem

Dictionary Definition

sachem

Noun

1 a political leader (especially of Tammany Hall)
2 a chief of a North American tribe or confederation (especially an Algonquian chief) [syn: sagamore]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

sachem
  1. A chief of a tribe of the American Natives; a sagamore.

Extensive Definition

A sachem is the head of a Native American tribe. One source explains:
According to Captain John Smith, who explored New England in 1614, the Massachusett tribes called their kings "sachems" while the Penobscots (of Maine) used the term "sagamos" (anglicized as "sagamore"). Conversely, Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley of Roxbury wrote in 1631 that the kings in the bay area were called sagamores but were called sachems southward (in Plymouth). The two terms apparently came from the same root. Although "sagamore" has sometimes been defined by colonists and historians as a subordinate lord, modern opinion is that "sachem" and "sagamore" are dialectical variations of the same word.
The "great chief" (Algonquian: massasoit sachem) whose aid was such a boon to the Plymouth Colony is remembered today simply as Massasoit.

Cognates

Derived from the Proto-Eastern Algonquian sākimāw: Derived from the Proto-Central Algonquian hākimāw:

See also

References

sachem in German: Sachem
sachem in French: Sachem
sachem in Italian: Sachem

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Dalai Lama, Establishment, Holy Roman Emperor, Inca, Kaiser, VIP, ardri, baron, bey, big gun, big man, big name, bigwig, boss, brass, brass hat, cacique, caesar, celebrity, cham, czar, dignitary, dignity, elder, father, figure, great man, important person, interests, kaid, keynoter, khan, lion, lords of creation, magnate, man higher up, man of mark, mikado, mogul, nabob, name, negus, notability, notable, padishah, panjandrum, pendragon, person of renown, personage, personality, pharaoh, pillar of society, policy maker, power, power elite, rig, ringleader, ruling circle, sagamore, shah, sheikh, shogun, somebody, something, standard-bearer, tenno, the great, the top, top brass, top people, tycoon, very important person, worthy
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