la·gniappe (lănyəp, lăn-yăp)
Chiefly Southern Louisiana & Mississippi
1. A small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer's purchase.
2. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. Also called regionally boot2. See Note at beignet.
[Louisiana French, from American Spanish la ñapa, the gift : la, the (from Latin illa, feminine of ille, that, the; see al-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + ñapa (variant of llapa, gift of a little something extra, bonus, from Quechua, from yapay, to give more).]
Word History: "We picked up an excellent word—a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice, limber, expressive, handy word-'lagniappe'.... It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a 'baker's dozen.' It is something thrown in gratis, for good measure." In this passage from his memoir Life on the Mississippi (1883), Mark Twain calls his readers' attention to an American regionalism that he thinks deserves to be better known, lagniappe. The story of lagniappe begins in South America: it ultimately comes from the word yapay, "to give more," in Quechua, the language of the rulers of the Inca Empire. The Quechua word was borrowed into Spanish as a noun spelled either llapa or ñapa, meaning "bonus, a little something extra added as a gift," and the word then spread throughout the Spanish of the Western Hemisphere. Eventually, the Spanish phrase la ñapa, meaning "the gift," entered the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans, where the whole phrase came to be thought of as a single word and acquired the French spelling lagniappe. The word was then borrowed into the English of the region. Lagniappe continues to be used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean "an extra or unexpected gift or benefit."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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