Skookum

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Skookum | A Chinook jargon derivative of skukm, a word in the Tsamosan branch of the Coast Salish language that originally translated into English as ‘powerful’ or ‘evil spirit’. In the extinct pidgin it was used by traders/colonists and First Nations people to convey either “strong,” “brave,” “dependable,” or “ultimate”. Though largely anomalous today, it occasionally pops up as a colloquial means of ascribing excellence or intensity to someone or something.

Usages: 1. “I was on the seawall last night when the clouds broke at sunset — the light was skookum.” 2. “Dave helped me move over the weekend. He’s such a skookum dude.” 3. “Wendy is a great line cook, a skookum beast during the dinner rush.”

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