"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
This phrase - which is sometimes considered offensive to Native Americans - means to give something in the expectation of a getting something in return or to give something that is more of benefit to oneself than to the recipient.
"He gave his wife a phone for her birthday but she never uses one. He knew she'd end up letting him use it all the time. Indian giver!"
The term "Indian gift" was first noted in 1765 by Thomas Hutchinson, and "Indian giver" was first cited in John Russell Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms (1860) as "Indian giver - When an Indian gives any thing, he expects to receive an equivalent, or to have his gift returned." Although this has been considered offensive by Native Americans it is really more a reflection on the dishonesty of the European settlers. When the natives offerred goods in trade the settlers sometimes took them without giving something back and then blamed the natives for wanting something. Some Native American cultures also had a gift-giving system rather tlike the Vikings whereby the giver of gift made it as magnanimous as possible because the culture required an even better gift be made in return. This wasn't a demonstration of greed but of a competitive system which was designed to show which of them was the richer.
Either way it may be safer not to use it but it is as well to know what it means!
My daughter Helen commented in November 2008 in her Blog that she was now keeping a notebook of new words that she came across during her reading. "This week I bought a lovely little leather bound book to write new words in as I read them . I've added a few from "1984", but my favourite has to be persiflage (from the French persifler) which means banter." I later discovered that my older daughter, Bryony, also kept a similar notebook.
This inspired me to create a Word blog. This will include both new words, favourite words and the origins of phrases that we commonly use. A definition and some comment, perhaps even a relevant quotation, will acompany the word or phrase.
“I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.” - Winnie the Pooh
Thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And please, sit for a spell. If you enjoy my posts, please feel free to follow me or subscribe to my blog. This is a word verification free, family friendly blog, so everything I share here is for all ages. I am a happily married man in my late sixties who lives on the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool, in the UK.
I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)