Posted by: Jack Henry | April 12, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Gift as a Verb

Good morning to you. I recently read an interesting article on the Grammar Girl website that discussed whether it’s acceptable to use the word “gift” as a verb (for example, “Anne was thrilled to be able to gift her daughter with a lovely pair of pearl earrings”).

I know many of you are internally yelling “No!” However, the article points to a long history (nearly 400 years) of using gift as a verb. In the beginning, it was most often used to mean endow, which is a more formal type of giving (think dowry).

Apparently, it was common in the 1800s to use the words gift and gifting “for formal giving that cements reciprocal or patronage relationships.” Grammar Girl cites an example in which Europeans and indigenous people used the practice of gifting to establish relationships.

Using gift and gifting as verbs fell out of favor until the 1930s, when people started talking about the gift tax. Because of the term gift tax, people started using the term gifting money rather than giving money.

And more recently, in 1995, an episode of Seinfeld airedthatmay be responsible for repopularizing the use of gift as a verb. In the episode, a character was accused of regifting, and after the episode aired, there seems to have been an increase in the use of gift as a verb, likely as a back formation of regifting.

Before you send me an angry email, please know that I am not condoning the use of gift and gifting instead of the more commonly accepted verbs give and giving (which I wholeheartedly prefer). I am just pointing out that you might not want to judge people too harshly who do use gift as a verb. This is not new-fangled terminology. (But you do have my support if you choose to silently correct them in your head.)

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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