was a term used by the Early Modern Japanese
to describe the island of Hokkaido
and the people who lived there. Sometimes the island was called Ezochi
("land of the Ezo") or Ezogashima
("Island of Ezo") and sometimes the people were called the alternate pronunciation "Emishi
" but the short form "Ezo" was most common.
The modern term Ainu comes from the language of that people; in the Ainu language, "Ainu" means "human being," and is what they call themselves.
Linguistically, the word "Ezo" is believed to be a corruption of the old Ainu word "enju" meaning "man."