Definition of lagniappe
: a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure The waiter added a cup of lobster bisque as a lagniappe to the meal.
lagniappe was our Word of the Day on 12/18/2012. Hear the podcast!
Examples of lagniappe in a sentence
the meal was served with a lagniappe of freshly made cornbread
the hotel threw in some free shampoo as a lagniappe
Did You Know?
We picked up one excellent word, wrote Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi (1883), "a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word-'lagniappe'.... It is Spanish-so they said." Twain encapsulates the history of "lagniappe" quite nicely. English speakers learned the word from French-speaking Louisianians, but they in turn had adapted it from the American Spanish word la ñapa. Twain went on to describe how New Orleanians completed shop transactions by saying "Give me something for lagniappe," to which the shopkeeper would respond with "a bit of liquorice-root, ... a cheap cigar or a spool of thread." It took a while for "lagniappe" to catch on throughout the country, but by the mid-20th century, New Yorkers and New Orleanians alike were familiar with this "excellent word."
Origin and Etymology of lagniappe
American French, from American Spanish la ñapa the lagniappe, from la + ñapa, yapa, from Quechua yapa something added
First Known Use: 1844
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up lagniappe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).