Azee’

This is the Navajo word for medicine. Azee’ is a derivative of the Navajo word for mouth, which is azéé’, since many medicines are taken orally.

Azee’ ííł’íní is like saying “the one that makes medicine” and is indicative of an occupation in the medical field.

Azee’ ál’į́ is also a way you can say “medical hospital”.

Since azee’ derives from azéé’, it can also take on other meanings. For example, azee’ dích’íí’ is a reference to chili, which is something that makes the mouth bitter or feel harsh.

Nówehjí

From the Navajo speaker’s point of view, nówehjí is a direction away from him or her. It’s like saying “further that way” or “in that direction” while pointing with your lips or an extended arm. [Note: Navajo people generally do not point with only their index finger. Instead, all fingers are extended so none are pointing back towards the speaker.]

“The couch that is sitting furthest away is brand new.”

“I want to train the horse that is in the stall that is further that way.”

You can use it to point to any direction from the speaker, including fixed points. For example:

“Harold works further out beyond Farmington (on the other side of Farmington).”

For “further beyond [place]” you can use nówehgóó.

Nówehjį’ (no closing high tone, a glottal stop) is a little more commanding, meaning “move out of the way.”

Tł’óó’

In Navajo, tł’óó’ refers to the outdoors. It’s not exactly nature-focused – as in The Great Outdoors – but more like ‘outside’. Tł’óó’ is also in contrast to saying something like “the outside lane of the highway.”

It is almost always used by adding the suffix -di (which signifies “at”) to form the word tł’óo’di. This is used to say things like “He is walking around outside” or “They are cooking outside.”

Another way to use this word is with the -góó suffix (signifying “toward(s)”). Tł’óó’góó simply means “in the direction of the outside”, such as towards a door or outlet of some sort.

Between these two words, notice how you can blend the suffixes into the main word. Something that is normal tone, like -di, can change a preceding óó to óo – a falling tone. This makes speaking more ‘fluid-like’.

Tóta’

Today’s Navajo word is tóta’, which means ‘in between water’.

Tóta’ is also the name for Farmington, New Mexico because the city is situated between bodies of water to its east, south, and west.

This word is made up of tó and -ta’ (as in bita’).

Tó, which was our word for October 23rd, means water.

The -ta’ root is related to another word, bitah – without the abrupt glottal stop – which means ‘among it’. Add the glottal stop and the word bita’ becomes ‘in between it (or them)’.

If you’re looking for similar words to tóta’, here are a few from the archives:

Nízhánee’

This is a way to describe luck in Navajo. It means “You’re lucky” if used in this way.

T’áá íyisíí (áyisíí) nízhánee’ is a way of saying ‘You are a really lucky person!’ – in other words, when something very good happens to someone.

There are also the words shízhánee’ (I am lucky), bizhánee’ (he/she/it is lucky), and nihízhánee’ (we, or you all, are lucky).

In the traditional context, how fortunate one is is affected by their conduct in life, and is less about pure luck with no ability to affect the outcome.

One particular usage of this word is Shizhané’é, which is a round dance commonly performed during an Enemy Way ceremony. The ceremony itself is said to purify one of the evil one obtains in warfare. The Navajo tale of the warrior twins tells of Monster Slayer’s return from his journey of conquering the giant monsters. He began to suffer from psychological changes from fighting, so he underwent the ceremony.

In this way, you can begin to understand that Navajo luck leaves a lot of room for us, as humans, to affect the outcome of things we do not fully control.