Gift Me a Break

I’m going to put on my old-man pants this morning and kvetch. When did “gift” become a verb? Was I asleep when this happened? Did I not get the memo? Is it now acceptable to say, “Gift the gift that keeps on gifting?” Where does it stop?
“Here, I have a give for you.”
“A what?”
“You know, a give! I’m gifting you a give! Come on, take it! ‘Never look a give horse in the mouth’!”
Is this is one of those things that makes you de facto old if you object? (“Dude! Language evolves all the time!”) If it is, I guess I’m there. Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.

Today's "Arlo & Janis!"

29 responses to “Gift Me a Break”

    • It’s from the game Blackjack, Steve. You’re allowed to double your bet after the cards are dealt, in exchange for certain restrictions on your later actions in the hand. (The restrictions won’t make sense unless you understand the rules, which I gather you don’t.) I think that outside of Blackjack, people use it to mean they’re increasing their investment after they’ve learned more.

  1. I think it’s ok to be prescriptive, but in most cases you’re paddling against the current. After all we still “dial” a phone, long after dials stopped appearing on telephones. ????

  2. I find my students (late teens, early 20s) do not understand Yiddish-English terms like “Kvetch”–unless they are Jewish and they learned them from their grandparents. 🙂

    But then Jimmy did a great cartoon on learning Yiddish from early TV shows. I use it in my history classes when I talk about the 1950s and the early new media of television.

  3. There’s a difference between language evolving and language that’s sloppy. I suppose “gift” has its place as a verb, since it’s more specific: You can be given a paycheck, but that’s hardly a gift. Of course, the meaning of “give”–a gift versus an obligation–can be figured by the object and the circumstances. If someone tells me her employer gave her a paycheck, I can pretty much figure out it was no gift. Since “gifting” is generally used with a “re–” prefix, and since “regifiting is, I believe, a fad, it probably won’t be around long. I hope. I suppose I’ve already dated myself, anyway, by using a word like “paycheck” in these days of direct deposit everything…

  4. Think “gift” as a transitive verb has been fairly common for a decade or more, but not as a synonym for “give” in all senses. In “Please give me a can of tuna from the pantry” you would not substitute “gift.” To gift implies that the giver is truly giving you a present, a freebie, even if it is the socially appropriate thing to do, as in a house-warming or wedding present. The tuna is so mother can finish making the tuna casserole. [Search “tuna casserole Keillor Redpath” for further edification.] Peace,

  5. Steve Staruch will probably play one of Elaine’s favorites on MPR’s Friday Favorites 3-7pm CST F 4 Jan., in her memory. Most likely late in the program.
    KCRB 88.5FM here. Don’t know if Fri. Fav. is rebroadcast on other Public Radio networks.


  6. @The Old Kuss “There’s a difference between language evolving and language that’s sloppy.” Indeed, you’re right. I’m hearing more and more people saying “supposably” in place of “supposedly.” I suppose it’s probable it’s a mish-mash of supposedly and probably. But sheesh, how sloppy!

  7. Given that “he and I” equals “we” and “him and me” equals “us” I’m still bewildered that anyone is comfortable mixing them up. Miss Alice B. Rogers, who terrorized Memphis’s Messick High School for decades, would be incensed!

    “In our day Messick was not only a full and bustling high school but was known as one of the best public schools around anywhere in the country. In fact ‘our’ Messick boasted not only the teacher chosen by Yale University as the best high school teacher in America – the unforgettable Alice B. Rogers – but also a future Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Ada Jane Walters. The quality of education we were given was the best public education available in the country.” — from the school’s online history

  8. We refer to one with talents like Jimmy as gifted, meaning he was recipient of many gifts.

    Throwing that into the conversation. Gifted can also be a past tense, as in gifted with many gifts.

    • I’m getting used to working within this new WordPress theme, but it is very “buggy.” I know, it probably all falls back on my actions at some point, but I have difficulties. I had to actually take down the previous post, take it in the back yard and hit it with a shovel. It would not go away! It kept reloading as the current post no matter what I did. Sorry! I suspect it’s gone for good.

  9. A split infinitive, too? Pshaw! Obeying customary rules, the sentence could be “I actually had to take down….” or “Actually, I had to take down….”

    Just razzin’ ya’, JJ. Your meaning was clear anyway.

  10. Well, I admit that I did figure out a while after I first heard the verb ‘to gift’ that yes, it is occasionally useful and does have a more specific meaning that ‘give’. However, I don’t think the difference is significant often enough to make it worthwhile. Yes, I saw the 16th century reference above, but I never heard it in standard American English until a few years ago.

  11. Jimmy: “Gift” as a verb – it’s irritated me for years.
    Another one that burns me: “give back.”
    It implies that someone is returning something that he stole.
    If he wants to share or donate something that he has earned honestly, that’s fine.
    But he is not “giving back.”

    • Agreed. Thinking that your efforts were secondary to the support of the community rubs me the wrong way as well. The support I had from my family and a few specific individuals dwarfs any so-called support from the community at large.

  12. One item which has bothered me ever since it began is the usage of “defense” as a verb. The verb is “defend”. Yet, I hear sports people saying things like “Let’s see how they will defense that plan.” .

  13. It all falls back on people that do not know / follow the rules teaching or setting an example.
    And Administrators that hire and tolerate the behavior.

    JJ you should have put it in a crock to ferment, (like Sauerkraut not Kimchi) then retry.

Leave a Reply to Burns Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.