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The Question:

What does the term "kemosabe" mean? The name The Lone Ranger used to call his Indian friend, Tonto. I'm quite sure it doesn't mean "friend", but something like "burning bushes?"

The Answer:

Cecil Adams comes to the rescue.

According to Adams, the radio show's director, Jim Jewell, got the word from the name of a boys' camp run by his father-in-law: Kamp Kee-Mo Sah-Bee. He believed it meant "trusty scout." As it turns out, "giimoozaabi" means something like "he who peeks" or "he who sneaks up on someone" in Ojibwe. So while the "trusty" part might not be on target, kemosabe probably really was a Native American word for "scout."

(Follow the above link for a few alternate theories of the word's origin, and the reasons Adams thinks this is the right one.)

—The Editors


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