word bugaboos

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Feb 2 11:29:22 EST 2004

Alison wrote:

>My personal one - that I seem to be reading/hearing more and more - "gifted"
>to mean gave.  "I gifted that book to her last Christmas."  "That bracelet
>was gifted to me." ???

Back in 1926 Chambers was defining "gift" thus (among other things): "v.t.,
to endow with any power or faculty", and by 1988 they'd added "to present"
after that.  According to the 1972 S.O.D. this usage has been around since
1619, though more in Scotland than in England.

Giving is one of *those* verbs anyway, what with having given and/or gave
instead of gived.

Personally I have always thought of "gifted" used that way as being likely
to be ambiguously insulting somehow, as in "he gifted us with his
presence", meaning "and we all rather wished he'd stayed away".  Carrying
tones of conscious condescension, as it were.  King Cophetua "gifted" the
beggar-maid with his lordly self.

Maybe that's because people like the Queen or Oxford Colleges have things
"in their gift", as it might be certain of the gongs she awards like the
Victorian Order that are entirely her business and the Prime Minister
doesn't pick people for really, or they can bestow the livings of some
parishes on their chosen clergymen, and so it ought to be associated with
really worthwhile honour-stuff rather than mere gew-gaws.  It seems
altogether too high-falutin' for everyday things like giving someone a book
for Christmas, if not downright forsoothly, anyhow, I do agree.


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