Posted by: Jack Henry | April 19, 2018

Editor’s Corner: The Gift of Poison

Last week I wrote about using 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.”

Robert T. sent me some fascinating information about the word gift. He told me that the German translation for the English word poison is gift. That just doesn’t seem like it could be a coincidence, so I looked up the etymology of poison to find out how these words are related, and I found this:

In many Germanic languages “poison” is named by a word equivalent to English gift (such as Old High German gift, German Gift, Danish and Swedish gift; Dutch gift, vergift). This shift might have been partly euphemistic, partly by influence of Greek dosis “a portion prescribed,” literally “a giving,” used by Galen and other Greek physicians to mean an amount of medicine.

That’s fascinating, right? We say poison; they say gift. I love how languages intermingle.

Oh! Now I know what I’m getting for my husband for our anniversary this year. 😊

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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Symitar Documentation Services

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