Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Chinook Jargon, mid-19th century
(Of a person or animal) Strong, brave, or impressive.
Examples of Skookum in a sentence
"Growing up, I had a skookum cat who feared none of the neighborhood dogs."
"The documentary explained how the skookum grizzly bears would grab salmon out of the water to hunt."
Popularity Over Time
“Skookum” is taken directly from Chinook Jargon, where it means “large,” “monstrous,” or “strong.”
Did you Know?
“Skookum” is taken from Chinook Jargon, a pidgin language combining the words from various languages of Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest with loanwords from French and English. It’s unclear whether Chinook Jargon predated the arrival of European settlers — because it contains words from other Indigenous languages, it may have been a trading language that various tribes and nations used to communicate with one another. Regardless, since the contact between Europeans and Indigenous people, Chinook Jargon has absorbed aspects of English and French and its words have entered English. Across the Pacific Northwest, it’s common to use “skookum” to describe big things, strong things, and brave things.