How to Use the Lenape Talking Dictionary

This is the opening page of the dictionary. Just type in the English or Lenape word you wish to look up. You can even do a search by typing in just a part of the word. It is not necessary to used accented letters in Lenape to do the search.

This is the Results page. In this case the word searched for was "bird" Notice the little speaker icon to the left of the Lenape entry. By clicking twice on that you can hear the word spoken by a native speaker.

This is the bottom half of the Results page. Note that some words do not have the speaker icon which means we have not yet added a sound file. Note also at the bottom of the page it reads More Results, and you click there to read more. You can also search for another word by typing in the English or Lenape spaces at the bottom of the page.

On the Results Pages if you click on any of the words which have been displayed in red letters and it will take you to another page with Detailed Information about that word. Below is a sample of that page, and here the word entered was "cat"


Once again here you can click the speaker icon to hear the Lenape word. Also, following the word there is an abbreviation within [ ] to tell the part of speech of the word. When possible the word will have a sample sentence which you can also hear. Many of the words will have an Analysis which will give information about how the word is constructed.

Some entries will also have a photograph of the item named, especially of traditional cultural items and things that are not commonly seen. You can click on the photo to enlarge it. Click on the photo a second time and it is small again. This page may also have a Comments box. This will be used to explain how some words are used differently than in English, or the traditional belief or use that goes with the word as was taught by our elders.

It will help you find things more quickly if you recall that Lenape often combines what would be two or three words in English into one Lenape word. If you want to look up the word "dress" you will find that there are at least three long pages of entries, but if you have a specific color dress you want to find, such as "blue dress" just type in the words blue and dress. In the same way if you want to look for the Lenape words for "I hear" typing in both words (without the quotation marks) will display fewer entries than typing in just the word "hear."

{Note}  If the image on your computer screen is too small on many computers you can enlarge it by holding down the Control (CTRL) key and typing the + sign key.  If the image is too large you can hold down the Control key and type the - sign key.  This works on PC computers.  On MAC computers to enlarge view area you use the Command or Apple key and type the plus key.

New Features

In April of 2011 we received a DEL (Documenting Endangered Languages) grant through National Science Foundation to make improvements to the Lenape Talking Dictionary. One of the first things we did was to hire some programmers to make the improvements we envisioned. They are as follows:

SEARCH- You are now able to search for words by entering the Lenape word, or part of the word. It is not necessary to used accented letters to do the search. An example of how to use the Search would be if you notice that a certain tree name ends with -mènshi you can check to see if that ending is used with other tree names by searching for menshi. You will find a number of tree names with that ending.

Another feature to limit your search is the Spacebar on your computer. If you search for the word EAT you will find a number of words containing that sequence of letters such as MEAT, FEATHER, etc. By clicking the spacebar once and then entering EAT it will greatly reduce the number of results and most will be forms of the verb, Eat.

WILD CARDS - Another new feature in the Search is the ability to use wild cards. If you are unsure of a certain letter in a word just use the question mark ? in its place. If you are unsure of a sequence of letters in a word you can use * to do the search. This wildcard search also works for looking up words from English. For example, using g??se will bring up Goose, Geese, Gooseberry, etc. Using g*se will bring up not only Goose, but also Grease, Glasses, etc.

STORIES- On the top line click on the word Stories and you will be taken to a list of them. You can click on the red speaker icons next to hear the titles of the stories. To hear the entire story click on the word View next to the name of the story. You will see the story written in short phrases or sentences in Lenape with a free English translation under it. There are a series of red speaker icons and by clicking each one you will hear the Lenape for that line. If you click the next icon as the previous line finishes you can hear the story as spoken in entirety.

Another New Feature

In December 2011 we obtained permission from the Delaware Nation (formerly The Delawares of Western Oklahoma) located at Anadarko, Oklahoma, to use their tapes to create sound files for the Lenape Talking Dictionary. Although the two Delaware groups in Oklahoma have been separated for over two hundred years they use the same Lenape dialect. Sound files made from their tapes are marked with a {DN} following the Lenape word.

Additional Features Added in 2014

We are happy to announce that it is now possible to look up individual Lenape words not only in the main dictionary but also in the Sentences and in the Stories sections. The default will search the main dictionary but by clicking the circle under the line where you type the entry it will search either one of the other two sections. We feel that this will be especially useful to people learning the language because they can see the word or words used in context. The new main page for this feature looks like this:

Historical Examples - Some dictionary users have expressed an interest in viewing historical examples of Lenape. We have added a section under the Detailed View where we have been adding examples beginning with a vocabulary list of seventy-five words from 1628 taken down in New Jersey and published in 1633. The spellings used at that time to try and represent Lenape words were very irregular and based on the language of the person writing the words, usually Dutch or Swedish. The words in these early examples are from what is referred to as the Lenape or Delaware jargon, and it was the language used to communicate between the Europeans and the Lenape. To fluent Lenape speakers some of the jargon terms probably sounded amusing but it did afford a means of communication. A good example is the term for a lion which may have been an attempt to come up with a term for a mountain lion. In the jargon it is called, Manunckus mochijrick singwæs, which literally could be translated as "angry big bobcat." It should also be noted that at that early time it would appear that some of the Lenape dialects were undergoing a shift from the sound of  R to  L which is the sound in present-day Lenape.

The following is a list of the early Lenape vocabularies added to the Lenape Talking Dictionary.  Each is listed by a specific date to identify the source, although in some cases they are the result of several years of work writing down the language. 

1633  Johannes de Laet  -  The Latin edition of his book he added a section on the Indians of New Netherland that had not been present in the Dutch edition of 1630.  In this new section is the vocabulary that he specifically states to be from the Sankhikan Indians living on the upper Delaware River (that is, the Falls area). Most of the words de Laet gives could be either true Unami or Delaware Jargon, but there is a complete lack of plural endings, which is a jargon feature. 

1648  Johannes Campanius  -  A vocabulary compiled by the Swedish Lutheran minister Johannes Campanius during his service in New Sweden from 1642-1648.

1684  Salem Record/ The Indian Interpreter  -  An extensive example of the Delaware Jargon it is a five-page English manuscript from 1684 or earlier and also called "The Indian Interpreter."  It was found among the early New Jersey land records in Trenton.  


The following wordlists are all from heretofore unavailable Moravian missionary vocabulary manuscripts.  They have been edited and published by Raymond Whritenour.  A number of these complete manuscripts have since been made available by Whritenour and can be found on  He has shared them for use in the Lenape Talking Dictionary.   Most of these words are mainly in the very closely related Northern Unami dialect. The Moravians were German speakers and they wrote Lenape in a German orthography. The main differences are as follows with their spelling first then the way the sounds are written with Lenape spelling:  CH = X;   J =  Y;  QU = KW;  SCH = SH;  TSCH = CH;  X = KS or KWS; and  Z = TS.   

1755  Bernhard Adam Grube -  This Grube manuscript is in [MS 767 (5)] in the Houghton Library at Harvard,  It is the oldest extensive Northern Unami vocabulary in existence, which is simultaneously the first broad sketch of the true Delaware language — i.e., the language spoken by the Lenape Indians when conversing among themselves; as opposed to the grammatically simplified Pidgin Delaware used to communicate with European traders and settlers.

1760  Bernhard Adam Grube - The Grube manuscript [MS Am 767 (15)] is in the Houghton Library at Harvard University.  The Delaware words are written in Roman letters and the translations are written in German. The manuscript is titled "Einige Dellawarische Redensarten und Worte" ['Some Delaware Words and Phrases'] 

1770  John Ettwein -   A long manuscript vocabulary of Delaware words and short phrases, with German translation, deposited in the Moravian Archives (Box 333, Folder 1, Item 1) at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  The manuscript, itself is untitled but the first page has the heading, "J Ettwein." 

1824  C. C. Trowbridge -  A manuscript about Lenape grammar, words, and phrases.  Trowbridge was sent by Gov. Cass to Indiana to answer a series of questions about the Delaware language and at least one other language, the Miami Indian language. In responding to the questions Trowbridge produced what is basically a grammar of the dialect of Lenape as later used by both groups of Delawares who had been moved to Oklahoma.  He returned to Cass with a 280+ page manuscript.  The spelling system which Trowbridge used was one that is based on English spelling and was suggested by Gov. Cass.  The manuscript has since been published under the title of  Delaware Indian Language of 1824, published in 2011 by Evolution Publishing and available from various booksellers.


Additional Information:

Additional Information: As stated, this is a work in progress. At the time of writing this the total number of Lenape words in the Dictionary that will be on the Internet is about 15,000, and we have many more to add. We are also continuing to have our audiotapes of Lenape speakers converted to digital format, which then need to be edited to extract the Lenape words. Usually the first step is to create a sound file with the Lenape word and its translation, and next is a sound file with just the Lenape word. This is then entered into the Dictionary database and becomes immediately available on the Internet.

We should mention that the sound files are not all of studio quality. Most were recorded whenever and wherever possible – sitting in someone’s living room, on their porch, in a classroom, etc. - so you may hear a dog barking in the background, or a baby crying, or people talking. We will do our best to eliminate unnecessary noises and clear the sound as much as possible, but not to the point of distorting a person’s voice.

We should also mention that there were some temporary difficulties if you were using an iPad or some other mobile device to access the Taking Dictionary as the speaker icons which play the sound files were not being displayed. We think our programmers have found a solution to this problem, but if you do not see the small red speakers icons to the left of many of the words please let us know by using the Contact Us form. Note that there are still a number of words for which we do not yet have sound files available so there are words which do not have the speaker icon displayed.

We hope you will find this useful as a learning tool. We have added Grammar and Lessons sections as well so you can start learning how to construct sentences in Lenape. We will continuing adding to these in the future. It is now up to you, the Lenape people who want to learn the language of your ancestors, to make good use of this material the Lenape elders have left for your benefit.

By English WORD or PHRASE

Word/Phrase Sentence Story

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Word/Phrase Sentence Story

You do not need to use accented letters or a complete word to do the search.