American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A ceremonial feast among certain Native American peoples of the northwest Pacific coast, as in celebration of a marriage or accession, at which the host distributes gifts according to each guest's rank or status. Between rival groups the potlatch could involve extravagant or competitive giving and destruction by the host of valued items as a display of superior wealth.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Among some American Indians, a gift.
- n. An Indian feast, often lasting several days, given to the tribe by a member who aspires to the position of chief, and whose reputation is estimated by the number and value of the gifts distributed at the feast.
- n. A ceremony amongst certain Native American peoples of the Pacific northwest in which gifts are bestowed upon guests and personal property is destroyed in a show of wealth and generosity.
- n. A communal meal to which guests bring dishes to share.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. Among the Kwakiutl, Chimmesyan, and other Indians of the northwestern coast of North America, a ceremonial distribution by a man of gifts to his own and neighboring tribesmen, often, formerly, to his own impoverishment. Feasting, dancing, and public ceremonies accompany it.
- n. Colloq., Northwestern America Hence, a feast given to a large number of persons, often accompanied by gifts.
- n. a ceremonial feast held by some Indians of the northwestern coast of North America (as in celebrating a marriage or a new accession) in which the host gives gifts to tribesmen and others to display his superior wealth (sometimes, formerly, to his own impoverishment)
- From Chinook Jargon potlatch ("gift"), from Nootka p̓ačiƛ ("to give in ceremony"). (Wiktionary)
- Chinook Jargon, from Nootka p'achitl, to make a potlatch gift. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“PS: Yeah, kids: I saw the Democratic flash poll, and I saw that the current state of the potlatch is at, what, $750K at this point?”
“Anthropologists have long been intrigued by "potlatch" - roughly, competitive gift giving - an economic behavior exhibited among tribes of the Pacific Northwest.”
“The curious custom of the "potlatch" -- a man invites his friends and neighbors to a gathering and makes them magnificent presents, his reputation being great in proportion to the extent of his gifts -- appears to be a device for laying up property; the host in his turn receives presents from friends and neighbors.”
“American Indian practice of 'potlatch' - a ritual ceremony in which the chiefs of rival tribes competed to destroy ever greater quantities of their own possessions.”
“As my client knew, a potlatch was a Native American custom in the Northwest, a feast at which prosperous members of the community sought prestige not by having wealth, but by giving it away.”
“Known as the potlatch feast, it was an occasion on which some of the more affluent members of the tribe went so far as to bankrupt themselves in order to demonstrate the extent of their openhandedness.”
“Indigenous peoples in the West, and especially the Pacific Northwest, engaged in a practice called " potlatch"-a festival usually held on a special occasion in which a family distributes valuable gifts to the community.”
“A potlatch is a festival ceremony practiced by many of Canada's indigenous peoples, including the Kwakwaka'wakw and Salish cultures.”
“EUREKA -- Artist Janie Walsh will hold a painting giveaway on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at her studio and grounds, 1515 Buhne St. The 91-year-old Humboldt County painter is following an Indian custom called a potlatch, when one gives away one's possessions.”
“potlatch" - a ceremony and social construct highly amenable to Georges Bataille, and which gives rise to a variety of thoughts about the nature of the individual and community, especially for tragedy.”
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shivarees, fiestas, and other celebrations
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