Indian Giver

A phrase cropped up in conversation a couple of days ago and caused a big debate. It was Indian giver. Most of us had never heard of it and doubted it really existed but its user quickly did some Googling and proved us wrong.

Apparently, an Indian giver is someone who takes back a gift shortly after giving it. The phrase comes from North American settlers in the 18th century who were confused by the Native Americans’ system of giving and trading.  Native Americans had no currency and exchanged goods through a barter system; when a Native American gave someone something, that person would give something in return. Since the settlers found this method uncivilised (to them, a gift was given with nothing expected in return), the term quickly became a playground insult from at least 1765.

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One thought on “Indian Giver

  1. Pingback: Indian Summer | Word Stories

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