Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A-to-Z Challenge: Gift

More etymology! Wheeeeee!

I can hear your excitement from here.

My gift to you.

Gift is funny because it showed up in the twelfth century in last names, but wasn’t a word until the mid-thirteenth century. It’s also interesting because it’s an English word that doesn’t come to us by way of French or Latin. It’s definitely Germanic in origin (there’s gabe in German, gåva in Swedish, gave in Norwegian, etc.), coming from the Proto Germanic giftiz. Further back, it can be traced to the Proto Indo European ghabh-, give or receive (and in another crazy origin story, that word is the ancestor of habit).

University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center


  1. That's interesting word info that never occurred to me. My immediate thought was the saying "Never look a gift horse in the mouth." It's an odd saying that I can kind of guess what it's origins might have been, but I wonder if the word "gift" relates to that?

    I'm now following your blog. This is a good series you're doing for A to Z. I like the educational aspect.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  2. You always come up with such interesting information. This is yet another word I never thought about the origins of. Thanks for the little lessons you give us.

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  4. I'd be curious where present came from then.

  5. Alex stole my comment! I wonder how those two are related (or if they are).

  6. Gava as a root word has a lovely ring to it.

  7. Interesting. I haven't seen it in a last name so far.

  8. Wait, a word that means give or receive is that ancestor of habit? I don't even know how to decode that one. Language is so weird sometimes...

  9. I like that gift and habit have something in common. Giving gifts should be a habit.

  10. Interesting that gift and habit are related. I like Kate's idea about them. :)


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