noun \ˈpät-ˌlach\

Definition of POTLATCH

:  a ceremonial feast of the American Indians of the northwest coast marked by the host's lavish distribution of gifts or sometimes destruction of property to demonstrate wealth and generosity with the expectation of eventual reciprocation
Northwest :  a social event or celebration

Origin of POTLATCH

Chinook Jargon patlač, from Nootka p̓aƛp̓
First Known Use: circa 1858



Definition of POTLATCH

transitive verb
:  to give (as a gift) especially with the expectation of a gift in return
:  to hold or give a potlatch for (as a tribe or group)
intransitive verb
:  to hold or give a potlatch

First Known Use of POTLATCH



noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Ceremonial distribution of property and gifts practiced among the American Indians of the Northwest Pacific coast, particularly the Kwakiutl. A potlatch is given by an heir or successor to assert and validate his newly assumed social position. Ceremonial formalities are observed in inviting guests, in speech making, and in distributing goods according to the social rank of the recipients. Great feasts and generous hospitality accompany the potlatch. The ceremony has been much studied by anthropologists for the light it sheds on the nature of property, wealth, prestige, and social status. See also gift exchange.


Next Word in the Dictionary: pot layering
Previous Word in the Dictionary: pot kiln
All Words Near: potlatch

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up potlatch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).