An “Indian giver” is someone who gives a gift expecting it to be returned to them. It’s similar to borrowing, but you choose to give the gift before expecting it back. It can be an offensive term because of the racial connotations. This article will explore some inoffensive synonyms.
The preferred alternatives are “reneger,” “ungifted,” and “repossess.” None of these terms come with the same racial stereotypes or prejudices. They work well to convey the same idea, showing that someone is asking for something back that they might have given to you.
“Reneger” is the best way to replace “Indian giver.” It’s inoffensive, and it allows you to show that someone has broken a promise or gone back on something (i.e. a gift that they might have sent you).
The definition of “reneger,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to fail to keep a promise or an agreement, etc.”
- Sam is nothing more than a reneger. I wish he would change his ways, but I really don’t see him doing that anytime soon.
- I think you’re reneging for no reason right now. You gave us this gift. You can’t expect it back just because you miss having it!
- I am not a reneger. I just don’t see why you have to keep that when I’m clearly in more need of it right now.
“Ungifted” is a simple way to use the “un-” prefix to reverse the action of the root word. In this case, the root word is “gifted.” Combining the prefix and the root means that someone has decided to take a gift back from you.
- Apparently, he came up with the ungifted idea behind some of these presents. He expects most of them to be returned to him.
- I’m not ungifting it, but I’m certainly not sure you should be keeping it. Maybe if you just give it back to me, everything will be okay.
- This has been ungifted. I didn’t even know that was possible, but apparently, he’s found a way to take it back from us.
“Repossess” is another great way of showing that someone is reclaiming something that they gave to you. Even if they gave it as a gift, they might still expect it back. They’ll do anything they can to repossess that thing.
The definition of “repossess,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to take back possession of something, especially property that has not been completely paid for.”
- Do you really have to repossess all of these gifts? We thought you were being so kind when you gave them all to us.
- I’m not deliberately repossessing these things. Alas, I just don’t see why you should be able to keep them without me.
- She is repossessing all of the things she gave to him when they were together. I’m not entirely sure if she’s allowed to take most of it.
“Recaller” is a decent synonym for “Indian giver.” It shows that you are “recalling” the gifts you’ve given. In this context, “recall” relates more to taking something back (like a company taking back a product) rather than remembering something from the past.
The definition of “recaller,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to order the return of a product made by a company because of a fault in the product.”
- I’m a recaller. I only ever give people things when I know that they’ll be able to return the favor when the time comes.
- I tried to recall that gift, but they didn’t want anything to do with me. I thought they were incredibly rude with the way they handled it.
- Are you recalling this? Do you actually think that we’ll happily give this back to you after all the things you said to us?
“Revoker” is a similar concept to “recaller.” You can “revoke” a gift by saying that it no longer belongs to the person you gave it to. It’s not common nor fair, but it’s something that people might do if they have the traits of an “Indian giver.”
The definition of “revoker,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to say officially that an agreement, permission, a law, etc. is no longer in effect.”
- She revoked all of the gifts. Apparently, she expected us to give them all back after the first month of usage. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.
- Stop revoking everything you send out. You’re going to run out of friends if you’re not careful. Nobody likes you as it is.
- I think he managed to revoke most of the things he gave to them. I didn’t even know that was allowed.
“Abrogator” is a more legal term that relates to ending laws or agreements. It can work well when you are trying to take back a gift that might be closely related to making an agreement with someone (whether it’s official or not is irrelevant).
The definition of “abrogator,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to end a law, agreement, or custom formally.”
- He’s the family abrogator. He always expects people to return the gifts from him back to him when he’s ready to accept them.
- I don’t understand the point of being an abrogator. Why can’t you just give people nice things without expecting them back?
- I’m not sure you understand the meaning of “abrogator.” It’s definitely not something that you should be proud of. That’s for sure.
“Annul” is a bit more specific than most. It comes from legal origins that relate more closely to laws and marriage agreements. However, it can be used to show that someone is asking for gifts back that they might have given others.
The definition of “annul,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to officially announce that something such as a law, agreement, or marriage no longer exists.”
- Have you found a way to annul your purchase? I wanted to make it easier on you, but I guess we’re going to have to do this officially.
- I’m not going to annul your gift this time. Just remember that I expect something in return next time. It’s not that hard.
- I’m annulling this gift. I don’t think it’s wise for you to have something like this without being grateful for it.
“Rescinder” is a good way of showing that someone constantly “rescinds” their gifts. This allows them to take back the things they’ve given to others (even if the other people aren’t best pleased by the rescinder’s actions).
The definition of “rescinder,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to make a law, agreement, order, or decision no longer have any (legal) power.”
- I’m not the rescinding type, though I am uncertain of whether you’re allowed to keep that. I’ve asked for it back, after all.
- I’m rescinding my original gift. If you could just return it to me, that would be fabulous.
- Did he seriously try and rescind this? I thought he was low, but I didn’t quite realize just how far he would stoop.
“Ask back” is a phrasal verb used to ask for something back. It relates to being an Indian giver because it shows that you are asking somebody to return a gift to you. You might also ask for something back from someone that might be more like payment for the gift.
- Did you actually want to ask for this gift back? I thought you were giving it to us out of good faith. I was clearly wrong.
- You’re not going to ask for this one back, are you? I know what you’re like, and I don’t think that’s fair at all.
- He’s asking for a lot of it back. It’s actually quite bad for business. We can’t afford to keep returning these to him.
“Reverser” shows that you are reversing the original gift. This is a good word to use because it shows that you’re reversing your original plan or action. Since you gave a gift as your original action, it makes sense that you’re taking it back as the reverse.
The definition of “reverser,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to change the direction, order, position, result, etc. of something to its opposite.”
- There’s no need to be a reverser. Once you’ve given somebody something, it’s theirs. You cannot take it back.
- He’s a reverser, so don’t get too attached to any of the gifts he gives you. They won’t stick around for long.
- I thought you tried to reverse this gift. That wasn’t very kind of you. I’ll be watching you from now on.
“Degift” isn’t an official word. It’s only recognized by a few dictionaries, and it’s not commonly used in English. We included it at the end for this reason. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to show that you are taking a gift back from someone that you previously gave something.
- Are you sure you’re allowed to degift from the registry? It doesn’t seem all that fair.
- I wasn’t trying to degift these presents, but I really need them back. I’m so sorry if that’s caused difficulties for you.
- She wants to degift these. Apparently, they were meant for somebody else. Now I don’t know whether we should give them back.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.