Indian


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honest injun

An expression used to emphasize the veracity of one's statement. Based on an informal spelling of "Indian" (i.e., Native American), the phrase is somewhat dated and may be considered offensive. Primarily heard in US. I swear it wasn't me who broke the lamp, honest injun!
See also: honest, injun

Indian file

1. noun A line one person or one thing in width; single file. (Possibly deprecatory due to the politically incorrect reference to Native Americans.) An Indian file of geese—such an unusual flight pattern for the bird—crossed overhead as we traversed the field.
2. adverb In such a line. The students lined up and walked Indian file into the auditorium.
See also: file, Indian

in Indian file

In a line one person or one thing in width; in single file. (Potentially offensive due to the politically incorrect reference to Native Americans.) The students lined up and marched in Indian file toward the auditorium.
See also: file, Indian

an Indian giver

A person who asks the return of or takes back a gift after they have given it. (Potentially offensive due to the politically incorrect reference to Native Americans.) I'm sorry to be an Indian giver like this, but I'm afraid I need the $50 back that I gave you last week.
See also: giver, Indian

the Indian sign

A curse or spell placed upon a person that causes persistent misfortune or a loss of volition. (Potentially offensive due to the politically incorrect reference to Native Americans.) With my business crumbling, my wife having left me, and now this car accident, it feels like I've got the Indian sign on me. Be careful of a woman like that, son—she'll hang the Indian sign on you.
See also: Indian, sign

Indian summer

1. A period of unseasonably warm weather in early fall. I know it's September, but don't get out your winter clothes just yet—this area often has an Indian summer. I hate the cold weather, so I'm hoping for an Indian summer.
2. A particularly peaceful, successful, or enjoyable time as something nears its end. As her illness worsened, my grandmother still enjoyed painting, so I think she had an Indian summer before her death. I wonder if people sensed that they were in an Indian summer just before the Great Depression.
See also: Indian, summer

too many chiefs and not enough Indians

There are too many people trying to manage or organize something, and not enough people willing to actually do the work. (This phrase may be considered offensive or inappropriate in the United States.) Everyone wants to be the brains of this project, but there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians!
See also: and, chief, enough, Indian, many, not

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Prov. Too many people want to be the leader, and not enough people are willing to follow to do the detail work. Everyone on that committee wants to be in charge. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. We'll never finish this project if everyone keeps trying to give orders. There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
See also: and, chief, enough, Indian, many, not

Indian giver

One who takes or demands back one's gift to another, as in Jimmy wanted to take back Dan's birthday present, but Mom said that would make him an Indian giver . This term, now considered offensive, originally alluded to the Native American practice of expecting a gift in return for one that is given. [Colloquial; early 1800s]
See also: giver, Indian

Indian summer

A period of mild, sunny weather occurring in late autumn, usually following a seasonable cold spell. For example, We had two whole days of Indian summer this year, and then it turned cold again. [Late 1700s]
See also: Indian, summer

single file, in

Also, in Indian file. Aligned one behind the other, as in We have to bike in single file here, or The children were told to march in Indian file. Both usages are associated with military formations; the first term was first recorded in 1670; the variant, alluding to the usual marching order of Native Americans, was first recorded in 1758.
See also: single

too many chiefs and not enough Indians

OFFENSIVE or

too many chiefs

If there are too many chiefs or too many chiefs and not enough Indians in an organization, there are too many people in charge and not enough people doing the work. This bank has 21 executive directors. No surprise, then, that some insiders say there are too many chiefs.
See also: and, chief, enough, Indian, many, not

an Indian summer

mainly BRITISH
An Indian summer is a period of great success late in someone's life or career, often after a period of not being successful. Despite an unexpected Indian Summer, they never really lived up to their initial promise. Note: An Indian summer is a period of unusually warm sunny weather during the autumn.
See also: Indian, summer

too many chiefs and not enough Indians

used to describe a situation where there are too many people giving orders and not enough people to carry them out.
See also: and, chief, enough, Indian, many, not

Indian summer

1 a period of dry, warm weather occurring in late autumn. 2 a tranquil or productive period in someone's later years.
2 1930 Vita Sackville-West The Edwardians Meanwhile she was quite content that Sebastian should become tanned in the rays of Sylvia's Indian summer.
See also: Indian, summer

honest Injun

honestly; really. dated
See also: honest, Injun

there are too many ˌchiefs and not enough ˈIndians

(British English, informal) used to describe a situation in which there are too many people telling other people what to do, and not enough people to do the work
See also: and, chief, enough, Indian, many, not, there

(in) single/Indian ˈfile

in a line, one person after another: The whole class walked along behind the teacher in single file.When American Indians walked in a group, each person walked in the footsteps of the person in front so that they could not be counted by the enemy.
See also: file, Indian, single

an ˌIndian ˈsummer


1 a period of unusually dry, warm weather in the autumn: We had a splendid Indian summer last October.
2 a period of success or happiness near the end of somebody’s life: He made his best movies in his seventies; it was for him a real Indian summer.
See also: Indian, summer

Indian giver

Someone who gives a gift and then wants it returned. Native Americans' economy was based on the barter system; therefore, an item that colonists and settlers took to be an outright gift was expected to be reciprocated. When it was not, the giver wanted the item returned. The offensive phrase, which first appeared in mid-18th-century New England, is now rarely used . . . and properly so.
See also: giver, Indian
References in classic literature ?
side of Kentucke River, from the Cherokee Indians, to attend their treaty at Wataga, in March, 1775, to negotiate with them, and, mention the boundaries of the purchase.
We proceeded with all possible expedition until we came within fifteen miles of where Boonsborough now stands, and where we were fired upon by a party of Indians that killed two, and wounded two of our number; yet, although surprised and taken at a disadvantage, we stood our ground.
My son," replied the king, "you speak nobly, but you do not realise either the value of the horse, or the fact that if I reject the proposal of the Indian, he will only make the same to some other monarch, and I should be filled with despair at the thought that anyone but myself should own this Seventh Wonder of the World.
The Indian, who had overheard the king's speech, thought that he saw in it signs of yielding to his proposal, so he joyfully agreed to the monarch's wishes, and came forward to help the prince to mount the horse, and show him how to guide it: but, before he had finished, the young man turned the screw, and was soon out of sight.
Phileas Fogg paid the Indian with some banknotes which he extracted from the famous carpet-bag, a proceeding that seemed to deprive poor Passepartout of his vitals.
It takes particular care that the religious customs of the Indians should be respected, and if your servant were caught--"
They felt no faith in the success of any such attempts, because they had no love for the poor Indians.
He established schools among them and taught many of the Indians how to read.
An Indian trader, well experienced in the country, informs us that within ten years that he has passed in the Far West, the bee has advanced westward above a hundred miles.
Departure from Fort Osage Modes of transportation Pack- horses Wagons Walker and Cerre; their characters Buoyant feelings on launching upon the prairies Wild equipments of the trappers Their gambols and antics Difference of character between the American and French trappers Agency of the Kansas General Clarke White Plume, the Kansas chief Night scene in a trader's camp Colloquy between White Plume and the captain Bee- hunters Their expeditions Their feuds with the Indians Bargaining talent of White Plume
Here, in an immense wooden building, was the great council hall, as also the banqueting chamber, decorated with Indian arms and accoutrements, and the trophies of the fur trade.
While the chiefs thus revelled in hall, and made the rafters resound with bursts of loyalty and old Scottish songs, chanted in voices cracked and sharpened by the northern blast, their merriment was echoed and prolonged by a mongrel legion of retainers, Canadian voyageurs, half-breeds, Indian hunters, and vagabond hangers-on who feasted sumptuously without on the crumbs that fell from their table, and made the welkin ring with old French ditties, mingled with Indian yelps and yellings.
The last miles into Selkirk, Daylight drove the Indian before him, a hollow-cheeked, gaunt-eyed wraith of a man who else would have lain down and slept or abandoned his burden of mail.
The wandering tribes of horse Indians, which have always occupied the greater part of this country, having of late much harassed the outlying estancias, the government at Buenos Ayres equipped some time since an army under the command of General Rosas for the purpose of exterminating them.
The Indian said, "Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?
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