la·​gniappe ˈlan-ˌyap How to pronounce lagniappe (audio)
: 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.

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Mark Twain's Thoughts on Lagniappe

"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. (What Twain didn't know is that the Spanish word is from Quechua, from the word yapa, meaning "something added.") 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 in time, New Yorkers and New Orleanians alike were familiar with this "excellent word."

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
Recent Examples on the Web Certainly pet-store pricing isn’t always top of mind: Some parrot burglars seem to burgle parrots as an afterthought, or lagniappe. Daniel Engber, The Atlantic, 5 Oct. 2022 In 2017 the Oscars served up an unscripted lagniappe with the flubbed Best Picture announcement. Brenda Cronin, WSJ, 22 Mar. 2022 Anything beyond the quarterfinals would be straight-up lagniappe. Jim Derry | Staff Writer,, 25 Nov. 2020 The tradition of lagniappe in liquid form continues at Café Degas (four courses $44), which adds a glass of port. Ian McNulty | Staff Writer,, 25 Nov. 2020 Also included were two lemons and a large mandarin, a lagniappe of citrus in an otherwise greens-heavy crate. Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr. 2020 Murray is five foot ten and one eighth of an inch, that extra point being lagniappe thrown in by the football gods. Rich Cohen, Harper's magazine, 19 Aug. 2019 That the club's salary cap situation also improved was lagniappe. Jeff Duncan,, 8 May 2018 Jones agreed that the bonds forged through service are a lagniappe of JAS membership. Carol Wolfram,, 2 May 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lagniappe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


American French, from American Spanish la ñapa the lagniappe, from la + ñapa, yapa, from Quechua yapa something added

First Known Use

1844, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lagniappe was in 1844


Dictionary Entries Near lagniappe

Cite this Entry

“Lagniappe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


la·​gniappe ˈlan-ˌyap How to pronounce lagniappe (audio)
: something given free especially with a customer's purchase

American French

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