Samoyeds, a nomadic people in the northern parts of European and Asiatic Russia, forming a branch of the Uralo-Altaic division of mankind. The name, which signifies in Russian "persons who devour themselves," and occurs in early Russian chronicles, would seem to imply that the people had once been cannibals, if it were not more likely that in this instance it is a corruption of some word connected with the Finnic Suomi or Lapp Sam and Sabme. The Samoyeds were originally spread from the Altai mountains to the Arctic ocean, and from the White sea nearly to the river Lena. They are still met with in groups from the White sea to the river Khatanga, but the space between the Obi and the Yenisei is now their principal seat. Their whole number is estimated at less than 20,000, divided into three principal and several smaller tribes speaking different dialects. They are mostly idolaters, of small stature and repulsive features, but peaceably disposed. They dwell in tents of reindeer skin. - See "The Land of the North "Wind: Travels among the Laplanders and the Samoyedes," by Edward Rae (London, 1875).