Article

The First Thanksgiving Vocabulary Guide

Definitions of  words commonly associated with the Mayflower and used by Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

This guide defines vocabulary used in The First Thanksgiving activity.

Mayflower Vocabulary Words

boatswain (or bosun): an officer in charge of the sails and the crew who work them

clewed up: to draw up the sails

conner: an officer on deck above the steerage who gave steering orders to the helmsman

cross-staff: an instrument used to measure the altitude of heavenly bodies for navigational purposes

fo’c’scle (or forecastle): upper deck quarters where meals were prepared for the crew and passengers

forecourse sheet: a type of sail on the ship

Great Cabin: quarters on the ship where the master (or captain), his chief officers, and ship’s apprentice lived, slept, and ate

helmsman: person who steered the ship from below the deck

hold: storage area for food and supplies on a ship

latitude: north–south position on a map

mariner: a sailor

mizzen halyard: rope used to raise or lower a sail on the third mast from the bow

quadrant: an instrument used for navigating the ship

Round House: room where the master charted and directed the ship’s course

rudder: flat piece of wood attached to the stern and used to turn the ship

steerage: the area below deck where the ship was steered

'tween decks: the space between the ship’s decks where the Pilgrims lived

whipstaff: a lever that moves the rudder of the ship
 

Pilgrim Vocabulary Words

breeches: knee-length pants worn by Pilgrim boys

coif: a tight-fitting cap worn by Pilgrim girls

curds: thickened form of milk, similar to cottage cheese

doublet: a short coat worn by Pilgrim boys

fowling rifle: gun used by the Pilgrims when hunting for birds

garters: bands worn around the legs to hold up stockings

hasty pudding: a type of oatmeal cereal

mussels: a type of shellfish eaten by the Pilgrims and Wampanoags

palisade: a type of fence surrounding the Plimoth settlement to help defend it

petticoat: a loose slip worn by Pilgrim girls

pocket: a small bag worn around the waist

points: laces used by Pilgrim boys to tie their breeches and doublet together

samp: a kind of porridge or corn-based oatmeal

thatched roof: straw roof

waistcoat: a type of jacket worn by Pilgrim girls
 

Wampanoag Vocabulary Words

ahtomp: a bow used for hunting

fletching: attaching the feathers to the end of an arrow

headdress: a decoration for the head, usually made of feathers

Kiehtan: the Creator, according to Wampanoag beliefs

kouhquodtash: arrows

leggings: leg coverings

loincloth: piece of cloth worn around the hips

migrate: to move from one place to another

mishoon: a canoe made by digging out a log

moccasins: soft leather shoes

noohkik: ground corn

petan: quiver of arrows

pneisog: warrior counselors

Sachem: the leader or chief of the Wampanoags (known to Pilgrims as Massasoit)

smoke hole: hole in the roof of a wetu to allow smoke from the fire-pit to escape

venison: deer meat

Wampanoag: the Native American tribe of New England that greeted and helped the Pilgrims. Also known as “Eastern People” or “People of the First Light”

wampum: clam shells used by the Wampanoag to make beads

wetu: Wampanoag house made of bent saplings and covered with woven grass or bark

  • Subjects:
    Colonial and Revolutionary America, Vocabulary, Thanksgiving
top