la·​gniappe | \ ˈlan-ˌyap How to pronounce lagniappe (audio) , lan-ˈyap \

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.

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 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 Any success in the playoffs looking back should have been lagniappe. Larry Holder,, 7 Jan. 2018 Simply making it to the NFC Divisional round felt like lagniappe after the Saints toppled the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in the wild-card round. Larry Holder,, 14 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lagniappe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lagniappe

1844, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lagniappe

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

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The first known use of lagniappe was in 1844

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lagniappe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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