• (Also chinook wind) A warm dry wind that blows down the east side of the Rocky Mountains at the end of winter.
  • (Also chinook salmon) A large North Pacific salmon that is an important commercial food fish.

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Example Sentences

“For dinner, I’m serving mashed potatoes and grilled chinook.”

“Alan paused his hike to appreciate the warm chinook flowing toward him.”

“Chinook salmon spend most of their adult lives in the ocean, but return to rivers and streams to lay their eggs.”

Word Origin

Salish, mid-19th century

Why this word?

As a common noun, “chinook” refers to either a type of North Pacific salmon, or a warm wind in the Rocky Mountains that signals the end of winter. These words came about in the 19th century for these specific regional items, also called “chinook salmon” and “chinook wind,” respectively, but both owe their names to Indigenous languages. The Salish people used the word “tsinúk” to refer to another group of people in the Pacific Northwest, and that word became “Chinook.” The proper noun version is used to refer to the Chinook people, an Indigenous group from around the Columbia River, or the Chinook language spoken by these people. As seen here, “Chinook” can also be used as an adjective.

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