Indian giver

noun Informal: Sometimes Offensive.

a person who gives a gift and then takes it back.

Origin of Indian giver

First recorded in 1825–35

Related formsIndian giving, noun

Usage note

This term is sometimes perceived as insulting to or by American Indians. However, it originally referred to their custom of giving a gift and expecting an equivalent gift in return. See also Indian. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for indian giver

Indian giver


US and Canadian offensive a person who asks for the return of a present he has given
Derived FormsIndian giving, noun

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

Idioms and Phrases with indian giver

Indian giver

One who takes or demands back one's gift to another, as in Jimmy wanted to take back Dan's birthday present, but Mom said that would make him an Indian giver. This term, now considered offensive, originally alluded to the Native American practice of expecting a gift in return for one that is given. [Colloquial; early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.