upset the natives

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Most likely from colonial days when upsetting the native population could lead to outbreaks of violence.


upset the natives (third-person singular simple present upsets the natives, present participle upsetting the natives, simple past and past participle upset the natives)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see upset,‎ native.
  2. To offend local sensibilities.
    • 2000, Neal M. Ashkanasy, Celeste P M Wilderom, & Mark F. Peterson, Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate, →ISBN, page xxvi:
      I have learned the most about culture when I have been involved as a consultant in trying to help an organization deal with specific issues on which it needed some help. The issue here is that in the normal flow of things cultural data are unintentionally concealed; the "natives" are not conscious of what it is they take for granted. The researcher then has the problem of how to observe phenomena that occur at that level without, at the same time, upsetting the natives by delving into areas that may be defined by them as private, or even unwittingly intervening in those cultures by raising questions that the natives may never have thought about.
    • 2001, Jacques Whitecloud, The Sin Eater, →ISBN, page 42:
      Paolo had decided he needed a more mellow persona so as not to upset the natives, but one still different enough to fascinate them. So he quit being a skater and became a Deadhead.
    • 2014, Susan Lewis, Just One More Day, →ISBN, page 310:
      How on earth Jacqueline brought herself to leave the poor little mite I'll never know, but she did, and it seems her and Maurice are settling in nicely over there—if you call upsetting the natives settling in, which sounds about right for our Jack.