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next week

nah dah moh

The Navajo word náádamóo is an expression of time. The word damóo, on its own, is the word for Sunday – a term adapted from Spanish domingo.

The prefix – náá – signifies a repeat of some sort, or ‘another one just like it’. For example, náá’ahideeltsééh is a parting expression that means, “I’ll see you (again) later.”

The whole word náádamóo is saying “next Sunday.”

It also means “next week.” Náádamóogo (or náádámóogo) is usually coupled with a day of the week to add specificity.


honey bee

tsihs nah

This Navajo word, which is also catalogued as tsís’ná, refers to the honey bee.

With the help of a few changes, we can tweak the meaning.

For example, tsís’nátsoh is ‘big or large bee’, meaning bumblebee.

Tsís’náłtsooí appends the word for the color yellow, or łitso, to refer to the ‘yellow bee’. An already yellow bee becomes a wasp, or yellowjacket, when you describe it’s specific color. [For another example, see mą’iiłtsxooí - the word for coyote and the word for the color orange put together.]

Go further and you have tsís’náłtsooítsoh, which is a ‘big wasp’ – in other words, a hornet.

And getting back to the honey bee, we can say tsís’ná bitł’izh to refer specifically to sweet honey. Bitł’izh is essentially saying ‘its secretion’.

And even more! Tsís’ná bighan (or baghan in quick speech) is a way of saying ‘beehive’.



hoh nes zil lih & hoh nes kuz zih

In Navajo, there is a particle that denotes areas or spaces. The little prefix ho- indicates not an object, but a spacial concept which can be physical and figurative (“I have a space in my memory/heart, etc.”).

If you take nizhóní and change it to hózhóní, you’ve now changed the meaning from “it is beautiful” to something like “an area is beautiful/tranquil/clean/neat, etc.”.

We’ve also used the word Hoozdoh (or Hoozdo) in describing Phoenix. It’s a formation of ho- and sidó (meaning it is hot) to create the meaning “the area that is hot”.

This leads to honeezílí, a similar formation of ho- and sizílí (meaning it/that object is warm/lukewarm). The resulting word refers to an area that is warm and, depending on the circumstances (like in the cold winter), sometimes a comfortable place.

On the other hand, we have honeesk’ází (also said hoozk’az) using the same spacial prefix combined sik’az (meaning an object is cold). In this case, the new word refers to an area or space that is cool.

So in short, they each mean this place or space is warm and this place or space is cool.



muh ee

The Navajo word ma’ii (or mą’ii) is the coyote. In some literature ma’ii is described as the “Navajo trickster god”, which is a misnomer depending on how you look at it.

Coyote is certainly a cunning figure in Navajo tradition. But tricks are only one facet of ma’ii’s character.

The “god” qualifier is less certain, mainly because ma’ii manifested as a physical being, but shared the knowledge of the spiritual beings (Diyin Dine’é – Holy People). If there were direct “gods” in Navajo tradition, they would have to be the purely spiritual figures that came before the First World.

Diné bahane’ (the People’s story) will sometimes say that Ma’ii was first in the form of a human, who found the wandering group of First Man and First Woman in prior worlds. This is where other names for Coyote come from, like First Thought, First Angry, and The All-Mover.

In Diné bahane’, coyote’s cunning way was put to use against the Black God (or Fire God or Black Man) – himself a kind of trickster – when he stole the way to make fire. (In Navajo tradition, Black, or darkness, borders and contains fire and heat. In this way, it was understood that the stars in the sky were made of fire. Black is also the color associated with Náhookǫs, the northern direction.)

Akin to Prometheus, and a host of other figures in the mythologies of other cultures, it’s fair to say there’s much more to Coyote than is popularly held.



uh-lth kehs dis si

The Navajo word ałk’ésdisí refers to something (a nominalized verb) that has been formed into a twist at either end.

This comes from the period that merchants and traders began to conduct business with the Diné. They brought not only essentials like flour, meat, and clothing, but also some extras like candy.

Ałk’ésdisí refers to candy. It’s hard to say whether all candies back in the day were twisted in shape, but many did have wrappers like today’s bubble gum or hard candies (like peppermints). Candy wrappers are twisted at both ends (or “twisted on top of each other”).

Today, ałk’ésdisí remains a colloquial term for all types of candy, even if they don’t have a twist to them.