Is “Gift” a Verb?

Montreal Translation Syllabus’Tis the season of giving . . . and gifting. And while many folks on the interweb are quick to proclaim that “gift” is not a verb, I’m here to set the record straight. It is indeed a verb. The issue is whether it’s too ugly to use.

In an article on the subject, the Grammarist cites the Oxford English Dictionary, “which lists examples of “gift” used to mean to make a present of from as early as the 17th century.” Grammar Gril also makes a similar reference, then takes us into the 20th century, when the verb gained traction again thanks to a Seinfeld episode “in which Elaine called a minor character a ‘regifter.’” Apparently this was the tipping point for “gift” to gain wide use as a verb again.

On the other side of the fence, critics concede that although it may be a verb, it’s not a nice one. In an article against the verbing of “gift,” Megan Garber states that it falls into the “word aversion” category; simply put, it’s a word that’s not necessarily wrong, but that’s ugly or distasteful to use.

Ugly or not, I don’t have anything against the word, except perhaps that it’s reaching the point of overuse. That said, with so much controversy surrounding it, you might want to use “gift” sparingly this holiday season, unless you’re ready for a fight around the yuletide dinner table.

Do you use “gift” as a verb? Let us know!

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