Navajo women can call their sons (children – direct descendants and clanwise) shíyázhí or shiyáázh. It’s a term of endearment that can also refer to someone else’s son (niyáázh – your son, and biyáázh – her/its son).

Yázhí itself is the Navajo equivalent of “little one” and is applied more broadly. For example “shizhé’é yázhí” refers to my father’s younger brother (uncle or little father). “Shimá yázhí” refers to my mother’s younger sister.

Applied to animals, yázhí refers to the young animal, or the baby animals.

Mósí yázhí is little cat, or kitten.

Shásh yáázh is little bear, or cub.

Dibé yázhí is little sheep, or lamb.

In Navajoland, you’ll often meet people with the surname ‘Yazzie’, which is said to be a transliteration of yázhí by government officials, who required of the Native American people complete names for record purposes.