Black Sheep Fine Wine and Craft Beer Shop on the Coast of Maine > Maine Native American Place- Names and Language

The derivation of many names for places in Maine

 

Androscoggin.  "The place for preparing, curing fish." (I)

 

Annabessacook.  "Smooth water at outlet." (I) A lake in Monmouth.

 

Bagaduce.  "The big tideway river."  Short for Majabigwaduce. (I) The Bagaduce River at Castine.

 

Cathance.  "The principal branch of a river." Pronounced "cat-hance," it refers to a river flowing through Topsham and Bowdoinham to Merrymeeting Bay, and to a stream in Dennysville.

 

Chewonki.  "The big ridge." (I)

 

Cobossecontee.  "The place where sturgeon is found."  (I) Specifically, it was the place on the Kennebec River where the Indians fished for sturgeon.  The nearby lake and stream may have been named for this area in the river.

 

Cook.  A suffix meaning a pool or bay, often applied to a lake or pond. (I)

 

Cushnoc.  "The head of tide." (I) This is the old name for Augusta.

 

Eggemoggin.  "The fish-weir place." (I)  As in Eggemoggin Reach, the eastern channel of Penobscot Bay.

 

Gore.  An area, triangular or irregular in shape, formed by the diverging or

converging survey lines, often as a result of inaccuracies.

Katahdin.  "Great mountain." (I)  Katahdin is Maine's highest mountain and is in Baxter State Park.

 

Kenduskeag."Eel-weir place." (I)

 

Kennebago.  (I) "Long quiet water" or "long pond."  Name of a lake and mountain north of Rangeley in Franklin County.

 

Kennebec.  "Long, quiet water." (I)

 

Kennebunk.  "The long cut bank." (I)  Presumably, the long bank behind Kennebunk Beach.

 

Macwahoc."Bog." A stream flowing into the Molunkus Stream. (I)

 

Malaga.  "Cedar."  (I) Two Malaga Islands are associated with Maine: one in Phippsburg, one at the Isles of Shoals.

 

Manan.  "Island." (I)  So, Petit Manan, the name of an island, means "Little Island." combining the French and Micmac words.

 

Massabesic.  "Big water" or "large pond." (I)

 

Mattamiscontis. "Alewife stream." (I)

 

Mattawamkeag. "At the mouth a gravel bar."  (I) (See Passadumkeag.) This was

the mark by which to recognize the Mattawamkeag River, tributary to the

Penobscot.

 

Molunkus. "Deep-valley stream" or "ravine stream." (I) A stream tributary to the Mattawamkeag River.

 

Monhegan.The "out-to-sea island." (I)

 

Mooslookmeguntic.  Bond suspects the name means "smooth when choppy seas," for an area of the lake by the same name which is smooth during windy conditions.

 

Naskeag.  "The end, the extremity." (I) As in Naskeag Point in Brooklin marking the eastern boundary of Penobscot Bay.

 

Nicatou.  "The forks." (I)  Especially a fork in the river.  Nicatowis or Nicatous means "the little forks."  Also one of the largest lakes in Hancock County.  Eckstorm, p. 49.

 

Oquossoc. (I) "Place at other side of little stream."  Name for a village in the town of Rangeley and of a stream connecting Mooselookmeguntic and Rangeley Lakes.

 

Orono.The town named for Chief Joseph Orono, who died in 1801.(I) "He was a

beloved and highly respected man, said by the Indians to be the son of a French father and a mother half French and half Indian. He was blue-eyed and so light of skin that in his own lifetime he was often thought to have been a captive white boy adopted by the Indians." Eckstorm, p. 26.

 

Passadumkeag. "Above the gravel bar." (I) A small river entering the Penobscot from the east in the town of the same name.

 

Passamaquoddy.  "Pollock-plentiful place." (I)

 

Pattagumpus.  "Back turn-gravel-place" or "the gravelly bend."  (I)  Generally, "a sharp turn in the river where the bottom is gravelly." Eckstorm, p. 63.

 

Pejepscot.  "The long rocky rapids part," of the Androscoggin River. (I)

 

Pemaquid.  "Long Point" or "a point of land running into the sea." (I)

 

Pemetic.  "A range of mountains."

 

Penobscot. "The rocky part" or "at the descending rock." (I) Originally the

name of about ten mile of the river between Bangor and Old Town.

 

Pentagoet.  "Falls of the river." or "at the falls."  This refers to tidal falls.

 

Robinhood.  (I) A sachem who greeted Europeans and signed many deeds in the Georgetown region.  Thus the names for Robinhood Bay and the Robinhood village in Georgetown.

 

Sachem.  A chief of a Native American tribe or confederation, especially an Algonquian chief. (I)

 

Saco.  "An outlet" of a river. (I)

 

Sagadahoc.  "The mouth of a river." (I)

 

Sagamore.  A leader or chief of a band of related Indian families who often camped together; a subordinate chief from the tribal perspective. (I)

 

Sasanoa.  A river northeast of Georgetown named for the Indian leader Sasinow, apparently by Champlain.

 

Sebago, Sebec.  "Great lake." (I)  Both terms come from the same term, variously spelled Sebecco, Sebagok, Sebagook.

 

Sebascodegan.  ""Almost through" or "rocky passage, almost through." (I) This island in Harpswell  has several deep cuts "almost through" it, possibly used for canoe carrying places.

 

Sebasticook."The passage river," "the almost-through river," "the short route." (I) This is the name of the tributary of the Kennebec River in Winslow, a heavily used route from the Penobscot River to Quebec, that rises in the Garland, Sangerville, Dexter area and flows southward to Sebasticook Lake in Newport, then to Winslow.

 

Sededunkehunk.  "Rapids at the mouth."  Incorrectly spelled and pronounced Segeunkedunk. (I)  A stream in Brewer.

 

Skowhegan.  "A place to watch for fish."

 

Weskeag.  (I) Originally Wessaweskeag, means "tidal creek" or "salt creek."  It refers to the Weskeag River in South Thomaston.

 

Wiscasset.  "The outlet."  (I)

 

Wytopitlock."Alder tree place." (I)

  

Illustrations/ Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons,Bigfoto.com

 

 

 
 
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