If you want to give something, don't "gift it"

If you want to give something, don't "gift it"

I hear a word slipping away -- a word we need this time of year. That word is "gift." It is being misused, and the more it's used badly, the more likely we are to lose a word. When we don't know whether we've lost "gift" or "give," we will be in big trouble.

If you are shopping for presents this time of year, you are going to give them to others -- but I keep hearing more and more people, usually in official contexts, saying things "will be gifted" or people "will gift them."

Thinking of my school years, when I hear of gifted things, I wonder how smart they are. "Gifted" at school was used for people who had been given many, or outstanding, talents.

What's wrong with "will be given" or "will give?" Nothing, that's what... except that, as I shudder to think, they seem to be fading from use. Are we as a nation that bad at the grammar of our native language? Are people who don't have some variety of English as their native language being held to such low standards?

So go ahead, conjugate your verbs. Give them a gift! It'll help save the majestic variety of the English language.

 

Filed under: Words Worth Defending

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  • I'm afraid this habit of using a noun as a verb started with party. That seemed odd to me at the time but not now. I think slang and business do this all the time. Of course I can't remember a single one now but I agree, gift is a noun. To give is a verb. In Spanish they do have a verb to give as a gift meaning also to treat, pay for. I'd prefer to adopt regalar like we have taco or fiesta than abuse poor gift.

    I love this discussion of words!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    So, now I can bug my sense of diction by gifting the most awarded car company.

    Somehow, though, "regifting" seems a proper term to me.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    So do I. Immensely.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Aw, shucks! Keep up these compliments and you may get more of this sort of post. Thanks.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thank you, Kathy. I was a bit startled by regalar -- and so was the computer, which just tried to change it to "regular" the way my brain did. Midwestern accents might (must?) not be very good at telling the words apart.

  • Excellent post! I also think our careless use of language (not to mention the frightening acceptance of "corporate speak" in all its forms) has brought us to the post-fact situation we find ourselves in today. Thank you for shining a light in the darkness. Write on!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    You bring up the point whether it is just the corporate speak or the outright lying. The one version I remember from its early days (about 25 years ago) was "Joe Blow has decided to pursue other opportunities." I remember when I had trouble with a contractor, the director (or whatever his fake rank was*) wrote him "maybe you want to pursue other opportunities," to which the contractor replied "I'll take more work." No, what the director tried to convey was "if you give us any more grief, we'll declare the contract breached and find someone else to do it."

    In the situation to which you replied on The Quark, it is the use of rhetorical devices to lie, but I don't think corporate speak is among them.

    ________
    * Again, around that time, I couldn't see how a supervisor in a business unit in a subsidiary could be a President or Director, as those are corporate titles.

  • In reply to jack:

    In your example of corporate speak, what it used to soften the Blow?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Cross out 'what' add 'was'. Thanks.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I got into it with some blogger with poor reading compensation who posted something on Bruce Wolf saying he was fired by Cumulus Radio that corporations don't use the word "fired" because they don't want to face defamation suits, even though the term is not inherently defamatory. But, as I noted below, people don't get severance on their contracts if they just quit, unless it is some sort of Dexter Fowler mutual option with the Cubs.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Tonight's Robert Feder shows that the point continues. Despite the boss's statement "[he] will be pursuing new opportunities," the FB commenters didn't get the point of the SEC filing, “He will be eligible for severance benefits in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement..." i.e., he was forced out, left after being told to, was terminated, was R.I.F.ed, etc.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Yes, it's time to X post-fact our nation.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you. You make my little efforts sound quite noble. I shall write on!

  • The noun-turned-verb that bothers me most is usually used in corporate settings: "tasked," as in "I was tasked to. . . ." It is not easy to pronounce correctly, and it really doesn't soft "ordered" or "assigned" to my ear.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Also making intransitive verbs into transitive ones, the most infamous being "grow the business."

    Just as Bannon structured the "political discourse," I wonder if there is a B-School course on corporate speak. I know they do teach such things as raising your inflection at the end of a sentence. Laurence Holmes once said he, and most radio guys, don't speak on air as they do in real life.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Thanks. I was startled the first time I read "tasked," because when I hear it, the poor word sounds so much liked "asked" ("I was asked to do something.")

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