Indian Giver


What does Indian Giver mean?

Indian giver refers to a person, that gives gifts with the expectations of taking them back later, leading to conflicts in the long run.


What's the origin of Indian Giver?

“Indian giver” comes from the fact that European colonists and Amerindian tribesmen often had misunderstandings and conflicts coming from the fact that Europeans thought the Indians gave them gifts, when they were in fact attempting to barter and were enraged when they didn’t receive anything in return.

The first documented case of “Indian giver” comes from 1765, defined by Thomas Hutchinson as a “present for which an equivalent return is expected”.

Spread & Usage

How did Indian Giver spread?

“Indian giver” appeared in print in several cases in the early 1800’s, especially in the United States, in the sense mentioned in Origin.

However, over time, the meaning of the expression shifted toward its contemporary understanding of a person that reclaims gifts that were given away.

The significance of “Indian giver” didn’t subside in the 20th century, remaining a strong idiomatic phrase well into the 2000’s.

It was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003, with countless other entries to follow.

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