"Learn Navajo one word at a time"

Thumbnail preview of the Navajo Starter Kit Companion E-Book.

Learn Navajo

We made the Navajo Starter Kit to help you learn Navajo.

Learn more

dzaanééz nahat'ah bee dah ooldah

democratic party

dzah nez nah hut ah beh dah old ah

With the wrapping up of the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina last night, we turned to the Navajo Nation Election office for today’s word. You guessed it, it’s the Navajo Nation’s official word for the Democratic Party.

What does it mean?

Dzaanééz is the Navajo word for mule, which is understood to be the symbolic representation of the Democratic party (said alone in the context of politics it’s understood widely to refer to Democrats).

The rest of the word, Nahat’ah Bee Dah Ooldah, is the Navajo representation for the group as a platform, or the ideas that they hold together. Nahat’ah (sometimes naha’tah) means “a plan” or “idea.” Ooldah references the act of many people gathering together. So it could be said that “many people gather together with the Mule plan” based upon a direct rendition.

But it is used colloquially to reference the Democratic Party, as a whole.

Can you figure out the name for the Republican Party, or their mascot (you may have to do a little googling..)?

Special thanks to Mr. Yazzie at the Elections office for the official materials.


I want, on my mind

nih sin

Verb time; this word today, “nisin” expresses the English equivalent of “I desire (it)” or “I want (it).”

We should point out an interesting aspect of the following paradigm: the first and second person forms also mean “to think (it)” or “to be of the opinion of.” We touched a little upon this in our post for “Ahéhee’” in which we used nisin to express gratitude.

Here’s the paradigm:

  1. nisin (“i”)
  2. nínízin (“you”)
  3. ńizin (“he/she/it”)
  4. niidzin (“we two”)
  5. nohsin (“you two”)
  6. nízin (“they two”)
  7. daniidzin (“us three [or more]”)
  8. danohsin (“you three [or more]”)
  9. danízin (“they three [or more]”)



bin nih un it tah tsoh

Your word for today should be familiar because it’s not that much different from Bini’anit’ą́ą́ts’ósí - the word for August.

Last month was the time of the lean harvest, so this month is the month of the bigger harvest. You can tell the difference by the last part of the word -tsoh.

You’ve also seen -tsoh used on NavajoWOTD with words like bééshbii’kǫǫ’í tsoh, Ya’iishjáástsoh, T’ą́ą́tsoh.

So, today’s word is the Navajo term for the month of September.



lth-ih guh ee

We hope you had a good Labor Day Weekend!

A few days ago we featured the Navajo name for Monument Valley, or Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii. Notice the very last part of that word, -gaii. It’s the part that references today’s word.

Łigai, or łigaii (because the ‘ai’ and ‘aii’ diphthongs sound nearly identical), is the Navajo word for the color white.

White is part of the four cardinal colors of the Navajo people, symbolizing the sunrise and the eastern direction.

There’s also the word ‘dalgai (dalgaii, or daalgai, or daalgaii)’ that pluralizes the white aspect. So conversationally it would be equivalent to something like, “[go pick up those] white things.”



call oh gee

Did you get all of yesterday’s new words memorized?

In case you didn’t get enough new Navajo words, we’re giving you today the word k’aalógii.

K’aalógii is the Navajo word for butterfly.

Here’s an interesting insight: k’aalógii was, traditionally, one of the first Navajo constellations, carried and set into the sky before Coyote scattered the rest of the stars by flinging them upwards.

For more on the stars, specifically the Milky Way, check out this post (one of the names for the Milk Way).