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Indian Giver

Posted by Bruce Kahl on October 18, 2002

In Reply to: Indian Giver posted by Jamie on October 18, 2002

: Doesn't this phrase carry negative connotations toward Native Americans? Someone please help settle a heated discussion/disagreement I am having with some co-workers!

It sure is racist.
The phrase dates back to the early 19th century and originally meant someone who gives a gift in the expectation of receiving something of greater value in return, which was indeed a custom among Indians that must have struck early European settlers as rather odd. Later on, the phrase came to mean a "false gift," as the adjective "Indian" itself took on the pejorative meaning of "false" or "mock," a sense also found in "Indian Summer" and "Indian corn."

See: the meaning and origin of the phrase 'Indian Summer'.

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