A gift or present is the transfer of money, goods, etc., without the direct compensation that is involved in trade, although possibly involving a social expectation of reciprocity, or a return in the form of prestige or power. In many human societies, the act of mutually exchanging gifts contributes to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy.

By extension the term gift can refer to anything that makes the other more happy or less sad, especially as a favour, including forgiveness and kindness (even when the other is not kind).


When material objects are given as gifts, in many cultures they are traditionally packaged in some manner. For example, in Western culture, gifts are often wrapped in wrapping paper and accompanied by a gift note which may note the occasion, the giftee's name, and the giver's name. In Chinese culture, red wrapping connotes luck.

Kinds of gifts

A gift may either be

- An ordinary object.
- An object created for the express purpose of gift exchange, such as the armbands and necklaces in the Trobriand Islands' Kula exchange,
- An alternative gift such as a donation to a charity in the name of the recipient.

Religious views

Ritual sacrifices can be seen as return gifts to a deity. Sacrifice can also be seen as a gift from a deity: Lewis Hyde remarks in The Gift that Christianity considers the Incarnation and subsequent death of Jesus to be a "gift" to humankind, and that the J?kata contains a tale of the Buddha in his incarnation as the Wise Hare giving the ultimate alms by offering himself up as a meal for Sakka. (Hyde, 1983, 58-60)

Figurative meaning

A gift can also be a special talent or ability that was not earned through the usual amount of long and difficult practice but instead comes easily to the recipient in a natural way. A person with such a gift is said to be "a natural" or "gifted" in that field of endeavor. A gift, in this sense, can be thought of as being given by God or by nature: a God-given or natural gift received by one at birth. For example, a fluent and entertaining speaker is said to have "the gift of gab".

Super Powers

The word gift can also be used to describe the powers and abilities of a super-hero. For example, on the CW television series Smallville, Clark Kent's father Jonathan frequently refers to his "gifts," by which he means his invulnerability, super-speed, etc.


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