Word of the Day

Monday, July 26, 2010


\POT-lach\ , noun;
A ceremony at which gifts are bestowed on the guests in a show of wealth that the guests later attempt to surpass.
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.
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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