Word of the Day : October 13, 2017

lagniappe

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noun LAN-yap

Definition

: 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

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. (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

Our meal began with a lagniappe of pickled vegetables.

"Lagniappe—the unexpected surprises, the extras—are one of the reasons I love New Orleans.… I live, and travel, for the unexpected surprise. I may get lost, but there's usually an unexpected treat in that unplanned detour." — Jill Schensul, The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), 19 Mar. 2017



Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a word for the fear of the number 13: t _ _ sk _ _ de _ _ p _ _ _ _ a.

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