bear > black bear (1)

noun animal_mammal

Proto-Siouan-Catawba

Proto-Siouan

Proto-Mississipi-Valley *wasápe

Proto-Dakota

Stoney waθáben ‘black bear’ [-n diminutive (?)] PAS

Proto-Dhegiha *wasápe

Omaha-Ponca wasábe ‘black bear’ RTC

Kanza/Kaw wasábe ‘black bear’ RR

Osage waçábe , †wasápe ‘black bear’ LF:185a

Quapaw wasá JOD

General comment

This term, meaning ‘something black’ or ‘the black one’ (with a diminutive suffix in Stoney), replaces the presumably earlier reflexes of *wi-hų́te, *wa-hų́te, q.v. The euphemism could have spread via either borrowing or parallel innovation. Comanche wasape is obviously borrowed, probably from Osage. This term is probably reconstructible within DH, but any Proto-Mississipi-Valley reconstruction is conjectural. Several Muskogean and Algonquian languages also use (different) euphemisms for ‘bear’.

Other languages

  • Cf. Comanche wasape.
Details Language Word Source