Gifting: a rant

Just so we’re clear, this post is a rant.

I understand that verbing nouns is not going to go away. But one in particular is stuck in my craw.

I finished editing a book yesterday—not a bad book. I don’t want to say anything negative about the book itself—just a word I kept seeing in it.

And that word is gifted.

As in: Ellen gifted the book to her son.

What’s wrong with plain old gave? Gave worked fine. We’ve been using it since English was Old English; though, of course, it was spelled differently back then.

But this is about more than me just being a curmudgeon. There is something about gifted that just sounds snooty. Take a look at these two sentences:

Robert gave his beaten-up, broken-necked guitar to James.
Robert gifted his beaten-up, broken-necked guitar to James.

When you use gifted it sounds like you’re doing some thing more special than just giving something to someone. Like you deserve a medal or a certificate of generosity.

Giving isn’t about being the recipient of praise for doing a kind act. But gifting feels like it is—like the focus is on the giver on and not the recipient.

What do you think?

</rant>

About Erin Roof

Editor for hire. Dictionary collector. Part-time cat lady. Word nerd blogging at grammarpartyblog.com
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13 Responses to Gifting: a rant

  1. Smaktakula says:

    I think you’re right–”gifted” just sounds too precious.

  2. MichWalkden says:

    I’ll happily join in your rant – but then I hate verbing of nouns period.
    As a pure aside, gift means both to marry (gifta sig) and poison in Swedish. Which is funny enough in itself, but substitute into your sentences above and it can be LOL material.

  3. seapunk2 says:

    If I were to guess where the “ing” thing comes from, I’d say that when folks began sending text messages to one another, they became too lazy to say all the words and couldn’t trust their own tongues to say everything correctly. So, sending a text became texting. This is funny, because my WP editor just gave me a squiggly line, under the word “texting,” with alternatives!
    What’s so hard about saying sending a text, giving a gift, sending a message? Pretty soon we won’t be giving advice, spending time with someone, we’ll be advicing and timing.
    Gifting sure takes the fun out of giving or sending a gift. Gifting sounds as if an invisible character rode in on a flying carpet and dropped a random something from the sky, origin unknown.
    Hey, thanks for the think. I have some new ideas for my children’s nonsense. :D

  4. alexandrastephanie says:

    I need to respectfully disagree with this rant. I am a person (I’m sorry!) who likes to see “gifted” used. Although, I am apparently aware enough of the gross aspects of it that I have thus far refrained from actually using it myself.

    In support of your rant, I would like to mention Steven Colbert’s slogan that states that dressage is, “. . . the official sport of the summer for people who use summer as a verb.”

  5. I always thought unnecessarily turning nouns into verbs was an American disease, but there seems to be an epidemic everywhere nowadays. Good on you for pointing out this barbarity.

  6. Robert says:

    If were taking about the camping guitar, than yes I agree it was gifted. That sounds way cooler. If it was just “given” that’s a pretty crappy gift. Good rant!

  7. Pingback: Focus On: Grammar Blogs | The Daily Post at WordPress.com

  8. I’m currently reading a traditionally-published, best-selling book in which the author”verbs nouns.” At first I looked up these “words,” imagining that perhaps language had changed. Nope!

  9. yz94 says:

    Thank you, thank you. I think the word is pretentious.

  10. SharonTenn says:

    And yet “regift” is so useful when you’ve gotten those three lovely but identical heart-shaped bowls for wedding gifts.

  11. Since when has it been wrong to use nouns as verbs? That’s a feature of English grammar, not a defect! I’ve actually addressed this issue on my own blog. This is not something that all languages can do. The technical term is conversion.

    “What’s wrong with plain old gave? Gave worked fine.”
    Are you also opposed to the verbs donate, proffer, lend, present, allot, etc.? Aren’t they also a little superfluous since already have give? :-P

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