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A ceremonial feast among certain Native American peoples of the northwest Pacific coast, as in celebration of a marriage or accession, at which the host distributes gifts according to each guest's rank or status. Between rival groups the potlatch could involve extravagant or competitive giving and destruction by the host of valued items as a display of superior wealth.

[Chinook Jargon, from Nootka p'achitl, to make a potlatch gift.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Anthropology & Ethnology) anthropol a competitive ceremonial activity among certain North American Indians, esp the Kwakiutl, involving a lavish distribution of gifts and the destruction of property to emphasize the wealth and status of the chief or clan
2. informal US and Canadian a wild party or revel
[C19: from Chinook, from Nootka patshatl a giving, present]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈpɒt lætʃ)

1. (among American Indians of the N Pacific coast, esp. the Kwakiutl) a ceremonial festival at which the sponsor bestows gifts lavishly upon the guests and sometimes destroys unbestowed gifts, thereby gaining or increasing social prestige.
2. Pacific Northwest. a party or celebration.
[1835–45; < Chinook Jargon pátlač, páλač < Nootka]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.potlatch - a ceremonial feast held by some Indians of the northwestern coast of North America (as in celebrating a marriage or a new accession) in which the host gives gifts to tribesmen and others to display his superior wealth (sometimes, formerly, to his own impoverishment)
fete, fiesta, feast - an elaborate party (often outdoors)
ceremonial, ceremonial occasion, ceremony, observance - a formal event performed on a special occasion; "a ceremony commemorating Pearl Harbor"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Forest Service land, only miles away from the stripped mountainsides belonging to the Potlach Corporation.
O dom, nestes termos, soa contraditorio quando visto a partir de um olhar exterior, mas para os agentes que vivenciam a sua pratica--seja no potlach, no kula ou nos cartoes de natal--nao ha contradicao na forma como ele se desenvolve.
O trabalho coletivo obedece as mesmas regras da Africa [...] Os trabalhadores se reunem atras da orquestra que ritmiza os gestos do trabalho, crescem os cantos iniciados por um ou por outro, que podem ser cantos de Vodu, mas que sao geralmente cancoes satiricas, improvisadas a partir dos acontecimentos cotidianos da comunidade aldea e que suscitam risos e ardor no trabalho [...] De noite, a festa sela a solidariedade do grupo, ao mesmo tempo que manifesta o estatuto de superioridade dos empregados da referida "sociedade", numa especie de potlach de distribuicao de alimentos.
(59) See An Act further to amend "The Indian Act, 1880", SC 1884 (46 & 47 Vict), c 27, s 3 [1880 Indian Act Amendment] (prohibition of the Potlach); An Act further to amend the Indian Act, SC 1895 (57 & 58 Vict), c 35, s 6 [1895 Indian Act Amendment] (prohibition of the Sundance).
(610) B67-16B9, www.touchstone.org The First 100 Years of E:dith Piaf, Teatro Potlach; dir: Pino Di Buduo .