An arbitrary vocabulary preference, explored
One thing people like to talk about that traditionally moves my barometer 0.00 fucks is the word “moist.” Are you familiar with this phenomenon? A not-insignificant percentage of the population really hates it. The sound of moist, the look of moist, idk. It bothers more people than you’d think, and they love to identify themselves and tell you about it*. “Panties” is another popular word to hate. Neither of them do it for me, but if I think about the condition hard enough I can sympathize. The same way that if you say “Kevin” over and over again you eventually start to realize how random and dumb language is. Kevin does not exist. We made Kevin. Kevin.
But this time of year, a certain kind of word sees a spike in popularity and it curdles me to my core—that word is “gift.” Specifically, gift used as a verb.
“The vase you gifted Susan is so fun!”
Something about that word used that way gives me hives. It makes me want to cover all of my sensory organs and strap on a thunder vest. Gift.
Gift, to my mind, exists as a synonym for “special object,” end of list. Your common law husband gave you a gift for your last birthday. You sang at your bat mitzvah, and it’s clear to all of your aunts that you have a gift. As a noun, the word is inert. Even the adjective—gifted—is fine. “Shelly is in the gifted tuba program at school and we are very proud.” Good for her! But to interchange “gift” with “give” or “gave”? Hoo! Daddy Yankee! It makes some circuit board in my brain catch fire and sets off an alarm and the sprinklers start spraying.
“Bad!” my brain shouts. “Ugly!”
I don’t know what the problem is. The dictionary says we’re allowed to use the word that way, but I am staunchly opposed nonetheless. Is this what happens to “moist” people? Or “panties” people? Does it feel as though all of the blood in your veins has suddenly become battery acid and you need to jump out of your skin in order to avoid hearing the sound of that word exiting someone’s mouth even one more time? If so, I feel you.
I asked my coworkers what they thought, and they seemed to generally share my sentiments (though admittedly not as strongly).
Are we in the minority? I have no way of knowing. “Gift”-haters seem to be a little more covert than “moist”- and “panties”-haters, so maybe we’re a silent majority. I’ve decided to try to find out.
For the next 24 hours, I will be running a poll re: your stance on the word gift. Please weigh in:
do you feel comfortable using gift as a verb? (ie: “i gifted that sweater to you!!!”)
I will report back to you with my findings and analysis.
*Kind of like how people also love to take a stand re: Oxford commas in their Twitter bio. How and why? Small-scale trends on micro issues.