Adventures in Etymology – Lagniappe

In this adventure, we’re looking into the origins of the word lagniappe.

Lagniappe image

A lagniappe [lænˈjæp] is:

  • An extra or unexpected gift or benefit, such as that given to customers when they purchase something (mainly used in Louisiana & Mississippi, USA, and in Trinidad and Tobago)

By the way, lagniappe is also written lagnappe, lanyap or lanyappe.

It comes from Cajun French lagniappe [la.ɲap] (tip, windfall, unexpected gift), from Spanish la ñapa (something extra given as a bonus; a gratuity), a variant of yapa, from Quechua yapay (addition, sum, to increase) [source]

Apparently in Andean markets it’s customary to ask for a yapa (a little extra) when buying things, and the sellers usually throw in something extra for their customers [source].

In Ireland an equivalent of a lagniappe is a a luck penny or tilly (an extra product given to a customer at no additional charge). The latter comes from the Irish word tuilleadh [ˈt̪ˠɪlʲə] (more) [source].

Do you know words with similar meanings in other languages?

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I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog.

One thought on “Adventures in Etymology – Lagniappe

  1. I grew up in Alabama and we always used the word “lagniappe” for a “certian little extra somethin” but I had no idea it was from Quechua!

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