Dec 202007

I’m usu­ally a bit of a stick­ler for try­ing to use lan­guage cor­rectly. I real­ise that one of the beau­ties of the Eng­lish lan­guage is the way new words and phrases are coined, and I will defend the right of people to do so, but it doesn’t mean I need to like all of them. Like the cur­rent use of gift as a verb. To me it seemed obvi­ous that you should always use give instead, until I real­ised that the mean­ing is actu­ally to give as a gift. Which isn’t as tau­to­log­ous as it sounds, since the verb “give” has many mean­ings, only some of which have to do with the giv­ing of gifts.

It seems to be mainly used in one of two con­texts:

  1. To give as a gift some­thing that the giver made (or could have made), such as knit­ted or baked items. Per­fect for bak­ing and gift­ing, for example.
  2. And the notori­ous regift­ing, the giv­ing of a gift to someone else that the giver was given. There seem to be whole treat­ises writ­ten around how to do this at this time of year.

I’ve nev­er heard gift used as a verb in spoken Eng­lish, but it crops up a lot on blogs and email lists writ­ten by Amer­ic­ans. I’m sure the usage will spread and fig­ur­ing out the subtle dif­fer­ence in mean­ing to give makes it easi­er to take. Mind you, I still don’t like it much.