[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. potiche,
  2. potidaea,
  3. potion,
  4. potiphar,
  5. potjie ,
  6. potlicker,
  7. potline,
  8. potluck,
  9. potman,
  10. potomac

Origin of potlatch

1835–45; < Chinook Jargon pátlač, páλač < Nootka p̉aλp̉a- (reduplication of p̉a- make ceremonial gifts in potlatch) + suffix marking iterative aspect

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for potlatch

British Dictionary definitions for potlatch


/ (ˈpɒtˌlætʃ) /


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 and Canadian informal a wild party or revel

Word Origin for potlatch

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

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