"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


possibly or maybe

dah tsih

Meaning: possibly, or about, or maybe.

This is a common word in conversational Navajo. One would use daats’í in an otherwise definitive statement or question in order to associate it with a kind of uncertainty, or guess.

“Karen knows” would become “Karen probably knows.” “How many years is that boy?” would become “About how many years is that boy?” “We will work today” would become “Maybe we will work today.”

So if you hear daats’í, you know you’ll be dealing with estimates, or guesses – roughly.


to butcher

nah ah ah

In English, the Navajo word ná’á’ah is a general term for a butchering. Navajo people frequently butcher sheep and cattle, and sometimes other animals like deer, and elk. Butchering happens both for special occasions and for subsistence.

If you wanted to say something to the effect of “Today there will be a butchering,” then na’a’ah is an appropriate word. The word will change a little bit when speaking of butchering specific animals, but depending on the availability of livestock the specific animal can also be implied.



jah uh bun nih

We’d like to take the opportunity with today’s word to reach out to our supporters who are familiar with jaa’abaní. If you can be bothered, we’d appreciate it if you shared your stories of this Navajo character with us (send an email to our address: Ahéhee’!

Today’s word means “bat.” The components of the word are: ajaa’ + abaní. Here, ajaa’ refers to the ear. The latter part, abaní, is the word used to describe hides, leather, or buckskins.

Literally, jaa’abaní would mean something along the lines of “ears like (of) leather.”# January 2013


south or noon

shah dih ah

This is the second of the four cardinal directions of the Navajo: South. (The first being ha’a’aah). Though the direction is South, the meaning of the word itself refers to the sun, where at its highest point it is generally in that direction – shá being the sun.

As such, the direction is traditionally significant because it symbolizes the beginning of order to freedom of thought and creativity — a kind of purpose or aim.



moh sih

Literally: cat, feline.

If you remember the latter part of the word mą’iiłitsxoo’í then you can use it to describe an orange-colored cat…

Using the yázhí descriptor, you can say mósí yázhí which is literally “cat the-small-one(s)”. This refers to kittens.