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In the Indian subcontinent, the first sale of the day by a shopkeeper is considered very auspicious. I am sure it would be the same in other countries as well. Is there a single word or phrase for it?

The users with Hindi as their native tongue would understand that I am talking about bohani.

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One option is to adopt "bohani" as a loan word. –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 11:39
    
Suggested edit: ... analogous to first-foot of Scotland/ Northern England usage, only that here it relates to daily business. –  Kris Dec 21 '11 at 11:45
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Certain words owe their existence to cultural and ethnic beliefs and practices. Equivalent terms do not exist in other linguistic denominations unless identical practices also exist. –  Kris Dec 21 '11 at 11:49
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@kris a loan word is a word taken from a foreign language. e.g. the French borrow "le picnic"; Japanese drink from a "kappu" (cup). English borrows "entrepreneur" from French. So an English speaker might say "I was excited about today's bohani - someone was waiting at the door when I opened up, and immediately bought an iPad". We already borrow lots of words from Sanskrit. "Avatar", "mantra", "nirvana"... –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 11:57
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@Kris more likely the other way around; but although it's more common to use a loan-word when the native language has no equivalent, it's not unusual for loan words to become popular even though there's a native equivalent, just because the loan word is catchier somehow. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loan_word –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 12:15
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3 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Handsel or hansel can be used.

Handsel (n.):

  1. The first act of using any thing; the first sale.
  2. An earnest; money for the first sale. [Little used.]

Hansel (n.):

A gift or bribe, the first money received in a day. Hence Hansel Monday, the first Monday of the year.

Hansel is also used as a variant of handsel.

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In Turkish, we call it siftah. –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Dec 21 '11 at 12:09
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+1. Confirmed by the OED as being 'the first money taken by a trader in the morning'. –  Barrie England Dec 21 '11 at 12:13
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Better to just use the original in italics and explain it at the first use. I would find it disruptive to come upon this word in the flow of a narrative about some culture that places value in the first sale of the day. I would expect to see the word used within that culture, italicized. –  sq33G Dec 21 '11 at 12:16
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Which dictionary is this? It doesn't concur with any of the online dictionaries I've consulted. Closest is thefreedictionary.com with "The first money or barter taken in, as by a new business or on the opening day of business, especially when considered a token of good luck." -- different enough that you couldn't use it as a direct replacement. Some dictionaries have nothing close to this definition. –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 12:28
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'money for the first sale. [Little used.]': As of 1828, the word was rarely used in this sense. And, perhaps, the sentiment, and therefore the particular implication of the word, faded into oblivion? –  Kris Dec 21 '11 at 14:35
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From my experience in UK retail, and my general knowledge of British and American culture, I know there is no such special significance given to the first sale of the day in most modern Western culture. There is certainly not a widely understood word dedicated to it.

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@JasperLoy the question is "Is there a single word or phrase for it?" and the answer is "no". If someone proves me wrong, I'll delete this answer. We get lots of questions of the form ("Is there a single English word for [something that has a word in their language but doesn't in English]. There needs to be a "no there is not" answer that can be upvoted and accepted, if it's the truth. –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 11:34
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Whenever I see "I believe" or "I think that..." in an answer, I am inclined to think it should be a comment too. –  tenfour Dec 21 '11 at 12:15
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As @Mehper shows, the answer isn't no. –  onomatomaniak Dec 21 '11 at 12:21
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@tenfour - I, like many other people, often use 'uncertain' phrases like 'I believe' in this kind of context. If slim thought there was an answer he would be definitive - Yes, the answer is.... But it's more difficult to assert with confidence that something doesn't exist - so you might mitigate the answer with [To the best of my knowledge] I believe.... Slim's answer was not a 'comment', nor was it a casual guess - it was his answer; one that he is reasonably confident in, but nevertheless, he is accepting that he might be proved wrong. –  CJM Dec 21 '11 at 12:37
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If you had not commented, wouldn't the philosophical argument still have existed? –  JeffSahol Dec 21 '11 at 14:56
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How's first-foot?

In Scotland and the North of England, the first-foot is the first person to enter your house in the New Year. If you choose the right person and perform the proper ceremonies, the first-foot can bring luck to your house for the rest of the year.

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Clutching at straws. This isn't the same thing at all. –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 11:23
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I'm not suggesting they are the same. What I am suggesting is that they have some similarity, and if I were to use the word "first-foot" in the context of Indian shop-keeping customs, you would know exactly what I meant. –  Pitarou Dec 21 '11 at 11:33
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I might guess what you meant; that you were drawing a metaphor between first-footing and the first sale. But he didn't ask for a metaphor. Also I would assume you meant the first person through the shop's door, not the first sale. Not everyone buys. –  slim Dec 21 '11 at 11:38
    
I take your point that the first person doesn't always buy. –  Pitarou Dec 21 '11 at 11:45
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