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90s Slang You Should Know


[pot-lach] /ˈpɒt lætʃ/
(among American Indians of the northern Pacific coast, especially the Kwakiutl) a ceremonial festival at which gifts are bestowed on the guests and property is destroyed by its owner in a show of wealth that the guests later attempt to surpass.
Pacific Northwest. a party or celebration.
Origin of potlatch
1835-45; < Chinook Jargon pátlač, páλač < Nootka p̉aλp̉a- (reduplication of p̉a- make ceremonial gifts in potlatch) + suffix marking iterative aspect Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for potlatch
Historical Examples
  • She guessed that it was there that the potlatch was to be held, and wondered what would happen when the Indians had feasted.

    The Lady of North Star Ottwell J. Binns
  • potlatch (Give)konaway (every)sun (day)nesika (our)muckamuck.

  • Many pieces of goods had been provided for the potlatch, and these were given away, given and received with dignified politeness.

    Our Little Alaskan Cousin Mary F. Nixon-Roulet
  • He had just returned from a Government “potlatch” at the Tulalip agency.

    Blazing The Way Emily Inez Denny
  • The old chief wished to take Gretchen to his wigwam for a month, and have her play the violin on the great night of the potlatch.

  • We took materials for a potlatch,—leaf-tobacco, rice and sugar.

    Alaska Days with John Muir Samuel Hall Young
  • And that night at Lewis's they gave Howard Eaton a potlatch.

    Through Glacier Park Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • When he had secured a large accumulation of such things, he gave a potlatch.

    Memoirs of Orange Jacobs Orange Jacobs
  • This is, no doubt, due to the influence of the potlatch which is among these people the central social and ceremonial feature.

  • Jim was very anxious that I should attend the closing-day of the potlatch.

    Memoirs of Orange Jacobs Orange Jacobs
British Dictionary definitions for potlatch


(anthropol) a competitive ceremonial activity among certain North American Indians, esp the Kwakiutl, involving a lavish distribution of gifts and the destruction of property to emphasize the wealth and status of the chief or clan
(US & Canadian, informal) a wild party or revel
Word Origin
C19: from Chinook, from Nootka patshatl a giving, present
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for potlatch

1845, "a gift," from Chinook jargon pot-latch, "a gift," from Nootka (Wakashan) patshatl "giving, gift." Later (1865) in sense "ceremony in which gifts are exchanged."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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