Word of the Day

Monday, July 26, 2010

potlatch

\POT-lach\ , noun;
1.
A ceremony at which gifts are bestowed on the guests in a show of wealth that the guests later attempt to surpass.
Quotes:
On social media, the potlatch takes the form of outtweeting and outsharing the field, overloading the network with fragments of oneself as users seek a ranking.
-- Rob Horning, "Gift Glut," Popmatters.com, May, 2010
I want to play around with the idea that the orgy of bonus-giving that is a way of life among Wall Street investment banks (and related institutions) is a perverse form of the potlatch, the ceremony among Northwest Coast Indians in which leaders (Big Men) give away enormous quantities of food and goods to another tribal group.
-- Bill Benzon, "The Wall Street Potlatch," New Savanna blog, Wall Street Journal, May 2010.
Origin:
Potlatch comes from the Chinook language, meaning "gift." Nearly identical words exist in the languages of various tribes of the Pacific Northwest.
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