The Ancestral Pueblans were an ancient Amerindian civilization famed for their basketmaking and dwellings carved out of stone and clay. Around the year 1400, they began to be in increasing contact with the Navajo people, with whom they had a generally beneficial relationship. However, there was a point when Navajos didn't trust the Pueblans too much because their forebears weren't related. Thus, they called them the anasazi, a word which in their language meant "enemy ancestors" (composed of anaa'i, meaning "enemy", and bizazi, meaning "ancestors". This was borrowed into archaeological terminology in the 1880s when Americans first started exploring local ruins, and soon reached mainstream recognition. The modern-day Pueblans, however, don't like that term and have been trying to rebrand, so there's been a marked drop in usage of the word since the turn of the century.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.