Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A malevolent, violent, cannibal spirit found in Anishinaabe, Ojibwe, and Cree mythology, which inhabits the body of a living person and possesses him or her to commit murder.
  • n. A psychological condition specific to some Native American groups, in which a person (in fever-induced delusions) believes that he or she is possessed by a cannibalistic wendigo spirit, or in which society hysterically believes a person to be so possessed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cannibal giant in Indian mythology.

Etymologies

From Ojibwe wiindigoo. Compare Cree wihtikow/ᐃᐧᐦᑎᑯᐤ ("greedy person; cannibal; giant man-eating monster"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He stood over the lifeless form of the windigo that had once been Wellington.

    THUNDER BAY

  • It was answered in kind by Wellington, who was no longer Wellington but a windigo.

    THUNDER BAY

  • But when the beast is dead, there is a great danger that you will stay a windigo forever.

    THUNDER BAY

  • The bellow of the windigo shook the snow from the trees.

    THUNDER BAY

  • The windigo let fly a death cry that was as appetizing to Henry as the heart on which he began to feed.

    THUNDER BAY

  • The foul smell of the windigo—the stench of rotted meat—was all around him.

    THUNDER BAY

  • Henry realized that what was coming for him was not a man but a windigo, the mythic beast out of the horror stories of his childhood, a cannibal giant with a heart of ice.

    THUNDER BAY

  • Henry said, “What if the windigo had eaten my heart instead?”

    THUNDER BAY

  • One modern-day Native American account of the windigo describes it as "a giant thing, swift" ¦ and covered with hair, and has eyes like two pools of blood.

    Signs of the Times

  • The Algonquin on the western shores of Lake Champlain told of seeing the windigo or "giant cannibalistic man" who, according to legend, roamed the countryside.

    Signs of the Times

Comments

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  • Wiktionary is incorrect. Windigo is the preferred spelling, wendigo the alternative. And the only attested pronunciation, to my knowledge, is WIN-di-goh. — The Orthoepist

    October 24, 2011

  • ~cannibalistic giant, the transformation of a person who has eaten human flesh (in the folklore of the Ojibwa and other American Indians)

    January 17, 2009

  • Basil Johnston, an Ojibwa teacher and scholar from Ontario, gives one description of how Wendigos were viewed:

    “ The Weendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Weendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody .... Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Weendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption. �?

    At the same time, Wendigos were embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess; never satisfied after killing and consuming one person, they were constantly searching for new victims. In some traditions, humans who became overpowered by greed could turn into Wendigos; the Wendigo myth thus served as a method of encouraging cooperation and moderation.

    January 17, 2009