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

(there are) 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. Potentially offensive. 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 ?
A disease, which Captain Bonneville supposed to be pneumonia, now appeared among the Indians, carrying off numbers of them after an illness of three or four days.
A familiar intercourse of some standing with the Pierced-nose and Flathead Indians had now convinced Captain Bonneville of their amicable and inoffensive character; he began to take a strong interest in them, and conceived the idea of becoming a pacificator, and healing the deadly feud between them and the Blackfeet, in which they were so deplorably the sufferers.
Accordingly, on the 9th of December, they struck their tents, and moved forward by short stages, as many of the Indians were yet feeble from the late malady.
On the twenty-fourth day of December following we had one man killed, and one wounded, by the Indians, who seemed determined to persecute us for erecting this fortification.
The same day on which this attempt was made, the Indians divided themselves into different parties, and attacked several forts, which were shortly before this time erected, doing a great deal of mischief.
Going round to the terrace, I found three mahogany-coloured Indians, in white linen frocks and trousers, looking up at the house.
The Indians, as I saw on looking closer, had small hand-drums slung in front of them.
He first gained his celebrity by his laws for his own estancias, and by disciplining several hundred men, so as to resist with success the attacks of the Indians.
Leaving the regular encampment, we passed by the toldos of the Indians.
Sire," answered the Indian, to whom the proposal did not seem nearly so generous as it appeared to the king, "I am most grateful to your Highness for your princely offer, and beseech you not to be offended with me if I say that I can only deliver up my horse in exchange for the hand of the princess your daughter.
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.
This singular and beautiful system of internal seas, which renders an immense region of wilderness so accessible to the frail bark of the Indian or the trader, was studded by the remote posts of the company, where they carried on their traffic with the surrounding tribes.
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.
But the new Indian guide could see like a cat, and led the party along paths they never could have found by themselves.
Yes, he went off with the rest of the Indians when Jacinto deserted us, but he could not stand being a traitor, after you had tried to save his brother's life.
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