More on Verbs From Nouns

In a previous post, we covered the bad tendency to make a verb out of a noun (action, credential, reference, task and others of this misbegotten brood).

One verb-from-noun that may be OK is gift.

It doesn’t mean anything that give doesn’t, so arguably there is no real need for it – but some lawyers like to use it for things like donations. Does gift sound more formal and legal/technical than plain old give? Perhaps, but that’s not good reason to use it.  

Gift as a verb does have a fairly long history, going back to the sixteenth century. And it is natural to talk about someone as being gifted with some sort of skill or talent.

In the gift-bestowing, present-making sense, the OED suggests the verb is ‘chiefly Scottish’, and most of the examples of usage are in fact from Scots legal sources.

Use gift as a verb if you must, but you might be better just to give.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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