Mission Glossary in PDF format


Carmel MIssion

Carmel Mission - HABS, Oriane Day Paintings (1861 - 1885) DeYoung Museum - San Francisco, California Prior to 1835



California Mission Glossary


This glossary covers key terms that are related to the California Missions.


adobe – sun-dried bricks made of clay earth, straw and water
alcalde – Indian leader elected by his people at the mission
altar – a table used by religious people in church service
arrowhead – the pointed tip of an arrow made of stone or metal
asistencia – a small mission or sub-mission
atole – a mush made of cornmeal
awl – sharp, pointed tool used for making small holes in leather

baptism – religious ceremony given for a person to become a Christian
barracks – rooms for the soldiers to live
blacksmith – a person who makes objects out of iron

carpenter – a person who make objects out of wood
carreta – wooden cart used to carry heavy objects
ceremony – ritual
chapel – small church
chert – a rock which can be chipped of into pieces with sharp edges
coiled – a way of making baskets which looks like it’s made of rope coils woven together
community – a group of people living in the same area
convent – a church and buildings for religious women to live
convento – building for the priests’ rooms

design – drawing
dialects – different ways of saying the same language
down – soft, fluffy feathers

excavation – digging in the earth to find the remains from another time
expedition – a group of people taking a long trip to a faraway place

fiesta – a party or celebration
fletching -feathers in the back of an arrow to make it travel in a straight line

gill net – a net hanging in the water to catch fish be their gills
governor – a leader who rules a country or territory
granary – rooms for storing grain
gristmill – a mill used to grind grain

heritage – something passed down to people from their long-ago relatives

kiln – a brick oven used to bake adobe bricks

leaching – washing away a bitter taste by pouring water through foods like acorn meal
loom – a machine used to weave cloth

medicine man or woman – a person called on to heal the sick
mano – a stone used to mash meal
metate – a stone or volcanic slab used for grinding corn or wheat
miracle – an event that cannot be explained
missionary – religious person who travels to tell people about God
mortar – flat surface of wood or stone used for grinding

design – drawing
dialects – different ways of saying the same language
down – soft, fluffy feathers

excavation – digging in the earth to find the remains from another time
expedition – a group of people taking a long trip to a faraway place

fiesta – a party or celebration
fletching -feathers in the back of an arrow to make it travel in a straight line

gill net – a net hanging in the water to catch fish be their gills
governor – a leader who rules a country or territory
granary – rooms for storing grain
gristmill – a mill used to grind grain

heritage – something passed down to people from their long-ago relatives

kiln – a brick oven used to bake adobe bricks

leaching – washing away a bitter taste by pouring water through foods like acorn meal
loom – a machine used to weave cloth

medicine man or woman – a person called on to heal the sick
mano – a stone used to mash meal
metate – a stone or volcanic slab used for grinding corn or wheat
miracle – an event that cannot be explained
missionary – religious person who travels to tell people about God
mortar – flat surface of wood or stone used for grinding