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Shadow Meanings


Oneida words are often combinations of smaller components. If you know the meanings of the components, you can see how they describe the meaning of the word. The components are like shadows behind the word meanings. For English it is often possible to look up the etymologies of words – where the words come from – but for Oneida the roots and stems in the shadow meanings are often more transparent to people who know the language.


If you’d like to explore the shadow meanings for yourself, here’s how.

Link to and click on the Oneida Dictionary. If you know any Oneida roots, you can search for how they are part of the shadow meanings by clicking on the ‘Search for Oneida roots’ and entering the root. If you don’t know any Oneida roots, you can find them by clicking on ‘Search by English words’ and entering an English word – click on any citation form and the line ‘made up of:’ will identify the component roots. Just copy any of those roots into an Oneida root search.


kawʌnaye·nás – tape recorder
-wn – word, yena – grab: word grabber

tehonʌhalawʌlyéu – he’s gone crazy
-nahal – head, awlye – stir: he has stirred his head

thoˀnikuhlakalhate·ní – he is consoling her
nikuhl – mind

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