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Q: Meaning of an Indian word ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Meaning of an Indian word
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bob905-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 18 Aug 2003 11:06 PDT
Expires: 17 Sep 2003 11:06 PDT
Question ID: 246044
Someone please tell me the meaning of the word "Sippewissett"? I think
it is an Indian word. I was in Cape Cod and saw the word on a sign.
Hopefully it weill have a word meaning to complement my home and name
it "Sippewissett"

Subject: Re: Meaning of an Indian word
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 22 Aug 2003 08:04 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello Bob,

Thanks for the opportunity to work on your was quite a
challenge, but I found what you were looking for thanks to some
helpful archivists in Massachusetts.

Sippewissett seems like a fine name for a home, especially if you're
near the water.

According to the book, "Indian Place Names of New England"  by John C.
Huden (1962), Sippewissett is a Wampanoag Indian term meaning "at the
little river".

Although the book does not break out the individual root terms,
judging from the comments by Markj-ga (which I can confirm, as I came
across similar definitions),  "sippe" is water or river, "sett" means
place and we can presume that the remaining syllable, "wis" might
translate as small.

I owe much of my information to a very helpful historian/archivist at
the Falmouth Historical Society.  If you'd like, you can contact her
yourself via their website:

See the very bottom of the page for a link to the archivist.

Hope this is what you needed, but if anything is unclear, just let me
know, and I'll get you whatever additional information I can.

Enjoy your newly-named home.

bob905-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
This answer was what I was hoping for.. Thanks very much

Bob E

Subject: Re: Meaning of an Indian word
From: tlspiegel-ga on 18 Aug 2003 11:54 PDT
Hi bob905,

I don't want you to think no one is researching your question!  I
searched extensively and only found references to the area which is
called Sippewissett.

I also called a Native American friend of mine and asked if this might
be an Indian name/word and he had no clue.

The area is in Falmouth MA.  I found references to the Great
Sippewissett Saltmarsh at Woods Hole, MA.


Subject: Re: Meaning of an Indian word
From: markj-ga on 18 Aug 2003 13:25 PDT
Although the exact meaning of very old Indian place names is often
hard, or impossible, to pin down, I think it is a good guess that the
"sippe-" in the name is related to the Algonquin word for "water" that
is part of the names "Mississippi" and "Sinnissippi," for example. 
That derivation is noted at these linked pages as well as elsewhere:
World Wildlife: Lower Mississippi River

Sinnissippi Forest: About Us

The suffix "sett" or "set" is commonly associated with an Algonquian
word meaning "place."  See, for example these references to the
derivation of "Massachusetts" and "Mattapoisett," for just two of many
examples: Massachusetts

Mattapoisett Yacht Club

However, this leaves the middle syllable of Sinnewissett unexplained,
and I have not found any corroborating reference to the derivation of
that name itself.

However, if you would to call your house something like "place near
the water" and you think what I have found is sufficient to justify
that, I would be happy to post this information as an answer.


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