(redirected from Indians)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.
Related to Indians: Red Indians

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.

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


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

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 ?
On the fourth day, the Indians killed one of our men.
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.
An Indian came out of the hut, and, at their request, conducted them within the enclosure.
The Indian, perhaps thinking he was going to make a great bargain, still refused.
All the rest of the early settlers seemed to think that the Indians were an inferior race of beings, whom the Creator had merely allowed to keep possession of this beautiful country till the white men should be in want of it.
They felt no faith in the success of any such attempts, because they had no love for the poor Indians.
Now it so happens that the Indians relish wild honey as highly as do the white men, and are the more delighted with this natural luxury from its having, in many instances, but recently made its appearance in their lands.
He had enlisted a party of one hundred and ten men, most of whom had been in the Indian country, and some of whom were experienced hunters and trappers.
The pious missionaries employed by the Roman Catholic Church to convert the Indians, did everything in their power to counteract the profligacy caused and propagated by these men in the heart of the wilderness.
He had his clerks, canoe men, and retainers of all kinds, who lived with him on terms of perfect sociability, always calling him by his Christian name; he had his harem of Indian beauties, and his troop of halfbreed children; nor was there ever wanting a louting train of Indians, hanging about the establishment, eating and drinking at his expense in the intervals of their hunting expeditions.
While I was in charge of the Indian boys at Hampton, I had one or two experiences which illustrate the curious workings of caste in America.
Shortly after passing the first spring we came in sight of a famous tree, which the Indians reverence as the altar of Walleechu.
I accordingly informed the Indian that the lady of the house was out; and I warned him and his party off the premises.
Now the monarch had no sooner proved the astonishing speed of which the horse was capable than he longed to possess it himself, and indeed, so sure was he that the Indian would be quite ready to sell it, that he looked upon it as his own already.
An hour's time saw the sled loaded with the ingoing mail and grub, fresh dogs harnessed, and a fresh Indian engaged.