The Meaning of Indigenous: What It Is and How To Use It

What does it mean if a person or thing is indigenous? This article will define the meaning of indigenous and teach you how to use this word.

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You might have heard the term indigenous pop up in discussions about Columbus Day and Indigenous people’s day. But what does this word mean? This article will begin by defining the word indigenous. 

Then, you will find example sentences containing the word indigenous. Finally, this article will provide you with translations, synonyms, and antonyms of the word indigenous. By the end of this article, you will be an expert on the word indigenous.

What Does Indigenous Mean?

According to Dictionary, the word indigenous is an adjective that describes a person or thing that originates from or is native to a certain country or region. It can also describe people who are the earliest known inhabitants of a certain place. People can generally use the word indigenous to mean innate or inherent. Indigenous is four syllables – in-di-gen-ous, and the pronunciation of indigenous is ɪnˈdɪdʒənəs.

How Can We Use Indigenous in a Sentence?

One great way to memorize the definition of the word indigenous is to try to use it in a sentence. Below you will find several example sentences containing this word of the day. First, read over these sentences and see if you can identify what is described as indigenous. Then, try to create your own example sentences containing the word indigenous. 

Example #1

The Inuit Native Americans in Alaska and the indigenous population from Canada felt their culture was being erased in North America to make room for Western culture.

Question: What is described as indigenous in the above sentence?

Answer: The population is indigenous.

Example #2

The Maori indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand are fighting to keep their culture alive through stories, language, and songs. 

Question: What is described as indigenous in the above sentence?

Answer: The Maori people are indigenous.

Example #3

The indigenous culture of the original inhabitants of Brazil in South America once populated the entire country but is now largely regulated to the Amazonian rainforest since cities have taken over the land.

Question: What is described as indigenous in the above sentence?

Answer: The culture is indigenous.

Example #4

The language they speak in the modern day is derivative of an indigenous language from the Southwestern region of America.

Question: What is described as indigenous in the above sentence?

Answer: The language is indigenous.

Example #5

We need to work on protecting indigenous communities, or else we will see their beautiful culture and history erased.

Question: What is described as indigenous in the above sentence?

Answer: The communities are indigenous.

Example #6

We decided to fill our yard with indigenous plants instead of the same cookie-cutter yard that everyone else has in order to attract pollinators and improve the environment.

Question: What is described as indigenous in the above sentence?

Answer: The plants are indigenous.

What Is the Etymology of Indigenous?

The word indigenous (ɪnˈdɪdʒɪnəs) comes from the Latin indigena and Latin indigenus, which stem from the Latin roots gignere and indi.

What Are Translations of Indigenous?

Indigenous people exist all over the world, but many world languages have their own translations of the word indigenous. If you are going to be learning about indigenous people in other countries, or if you plan on traveling to a foreign country, this list of translations of the word indigenous from Nice Translator can prove very useful. 

How many of these translations did you already know? 

  • Icelandic: frumbyggja
  • Slovenian: avtohtona
  • German: einheimisch
  • Amharic: የአገሬው ተወላጅ
  • Turkish: yerli
  • Portuguese (Portugal): indígena
  • Catalan: indígena
  • Bulgarian: коренно
  • Telugu: స్వదేశీ
  • Malay: Orang asli
  • Thai: เป็นชนพื้นเมือง
  • Estonian: põlisrahvas
  • French: indigène
  • Latvian: vietējais
  • Tamil: உள்நாட்டு
  • Welsh: brodorol
  • Filipino: Katutubong
  • Swahili: asilia
  • Danish: oprindelig
  • Marathi: देशी
  • Chinese (PRC): 土著
  • Greek: εγχώριος
  • Arabic: السكان الأصليين
  • Gujarati: સ્વદેશી
  • Dutch: inheems
  • Ukrainian: корінний
  • Kannada: ಸ್ಥಳೀಯ
  • Vietnamese: bản địa
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 土著
  • Russian: местный
  • Czech: domorodý
  • Malayalam: തദ്ദേശീയമായ
  • Polish: rdzenny
  • Korean: 토착
  • Indonesian: asli
  • Basque: indigeno
  • Slovak: domorodý
  • Lithuanian: Vietinis
  • Japanese: 先住民
  • Romanian: Indigen
  • Hindi: देशज
  • Finnish: alkuperäiskansojen
  • Urdu: سودیشی
  • Croatian: autohtoni
  • Norwegian: Urfolk
  • Portuguese (Brazil): indígena
  • Hungarian: bennszülött
  • Serbian: аутохтони
  • Bengali: আদিবাসী
  • Spanish: indígena
  • Hebrew: יְלִידִי
  • Swedish: inhemsk
  • Italian: indigeno

What Are Synonyms of Indigenous?

Often, people use the word indigenous to refer to people or native plants. The word indigenous is fairly neutral in connotation. Still, there are some circumstances where you may want to use a word with the same definition of indigenous but a different connotation. 

For this, you can turn to this list of synonyms of indigenous from Power Thesaurus

  • aboriginal
  • aborigine
  • autochthon
  • autochthonal
  • autochthonic
  • autochthonous
  • born
  • built-in
  • centralized
  • circumscribed
  • civic
  • community
  • congenital
  • connate
  • connatural
  • constitutional
  • customary
  • dialectal
  • domestic
  • domesticated
  • earliest
  • elemental
  • enclosed
  • endemic
  • endemical
  • essential
  • ethnic
  • first
  • first nations
  • fundamental
  • genetic
  • gut
  • handcrafted
  • hereditary
  • home
  • home-grown
  • homegrown
  • homemade
  • immanent
  • in-house
  • inborn
  • inbred
  • incarnate
  • indigene
  • indwelling
  • ingenerate
  • ingrained
  • inherent
  • inherited
  • innate
  • inner
  • innermore
  • inside
  • instinctive
  • instinctual
  • interior
  • internal
  • intestine
  • intimate
  • intramural
  • intrinsic
  • inward
  • inwrought
  • local
  • municipal
  • natal
  • national
  • native
  • native-born
  • natural
  • original
  • primordial
  • private
  • resident
  • subjective
  • unacquired
  • vernacular
  • visceral

What Are Antonyms of Indigenous?

To refer to people or things that are new, introduced, or foreign, take a look at this list of antonyms of indigenous, also provided by Power Thesaurus

  • accidental
  • acquired
  • adopted
  • adscititious
  • adventitious
  • alien
  • alternate
  • area
  • artificial
  • assumed
  • banal
  • banishment
  • blah
  • coincidental
  • colonist
  • commuter
  • consequent
  • copied
  • copy
  • corny
  • cosmopolitan
  • deportation
  • deportee
  • derivative
  • exotic
  • external
  • extraneous
  • foreign
  • immigrant
  • international
  • nonnative
  • pandemic
  • psychogenic
  • stereotype
  • strange


The word indigenous is an adjective that means original or innate. People often use the word indigenous to refer to the native people from a certain land or region. 


  1. Indigenous synonyms – 380 Words and Phrases for Indigenous | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Indigenous antonyms – 133 Opposites of Indigenous | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Indigenous | Nice Translator 
  4. Indigenous Definition & Meaning |