object given without the expectation of payment
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A gift (or a present) is the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return.

It was the custom of the Roman emperors, at their triumphal entrance, to cast new coins among the multitudes; so doth Christ, in His triumphal ascension into heaven, throw the greatest gifts for the good of men that were ever given. ~ Thomas Goodwin


  • Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted friend is the best relative, Nibbana is the greatest bliss.
  • He ne'er considered it as loth
    To look a gift-horse in the mouth,
    And very wisely would lay forth
    No more upon it than 'twas worth;
    But as he got it freely, so
    He spent it frank and freely too:
    For saints themselves will sometimes be,
    Of gifts that cost them nothing, free.
  • The gifts of a bad man bring no good with them.
  • πείθειν δῶρα καὶ θεοὺς λόγος
    • Translation: It is said that gifts persuade even the gods.
    • Euripides, Medea, line 964.
  • It was the custom of the Roman emperors, at their triumphal entrance, to cast new coins among the multitudes; so doth Christ, in His triumphal ascension into heaven, throw the greatest gifts for the good of men that were ever given.
    • Thomas Goodwin reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 78.
  • A gift comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your beckoning. It is not a reward; you cannot earn it, or call it to you, or even deserve it. And yet it appears. Your only role is to be open-eyed and present. Gifts exist in a realm of humility and mystery—as with random acts of kindness, we do not know their source.
  • Gifts from the earth or from each other establish a particular relationship, an obligation of sorts to give, to receive, and to reciprocate.
  • The exchange relationships we choose determine whether we share them as a common gift or sell them as a private commodity. A great deal rests on that choice. For the greater part of human history, and in places in the world today, common resources were the rule. But some invented a different story, a social construct in which everything is a commodity to be bought and sold. The market economy story has spread like wildfire, with uneven results for human well-being and devastation for the natural world. But it is just a story we have told ourselves and we are free to tell another, to reclaim the old one. One of these stories sustains the living systems on which we depend. One of these stories opens the way to living in gratitude and amazement at the richness and generosity of the world. One of these stories asks us to bestow our own gifts in kind, to celebrate our kinship with the world. We can choose. If all the world is a commodity, how poor we grow. When all the world is a gift in motion, how wealthy we become.
  • We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back.
  • Duties and gifts are two sides of the same coin. Eagles were given the gift of far sight, so it is their duty to watch over us. Rain fulfills its duty as it falls, because it was given the gift of sustaining life. What is the duty of humans? If gifts and responsibilities are one, then asking "What is our responsibility?" is the same as asking "What is our gift?" It is said that only humans have the capacity for gratitude. This is among our gifts.
  • I’ve heard it said that sometimes, in return for the gifts of the earth, gratitude is enough. It is our uniquely human gift to express thanks, because we have the awareness and the collective memory to remember that the world could well be otherwise, less generous than it is.
  • I do not the know the happiness of receiving; and often I dreamed that stealing must be more blessed than receiving.
    This is my poverty, that my hand never rests from bestowing; this is my envy, that I see waiting eyes and the illuminated nights of longing.
    Oh misery of all bestowers! Oh darkening of my sun! Oh craving to crave! Oh ravenous hunger in satiety!
    They receive from me, but do I still touch their souls? There is a cleft between giving and receiving; and the closest cleft is the last to be bridged.
    A hunger grows out of my beauty; I wish to harm those for whom I shine, I wish to rob those on whom I have bestowed: – thus I hunger for malice.
    Withdrawing my hand when a hand already reaches for it; hesitating like the waterfall that hesitates even while plunging – thus I hunger for malice.
    My fullness plots such vengeance; such trickery gushes from my loneliness.
    My happiness in bestowing died in bestowing, my virtue wearied of itself in its superabundance!
    For one who always bestows, the danger is loss of shame; whoever dispenses always has calloused hands and heart from sheer dispensing.
  • Eo animo quidque debetur quo datur, nec quantum sit sed a quali profectum voluntate perpenditur.
    • Translation: The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the gift is acknowledged; it is the intention, not the face-value of the gift, that is weighed.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, no. 81, sect. 6; translation from Tochi Omenukor Words of a Woman (New York: Writer's Club Press, 2002) p. 15.
  • He who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first installment on his debt.
  • Every gift of noble origin
    Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath.
  • The only gift is a portion of thyself. … Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing."
  • Quran (16:71) - "Allah has bestowed His gifts of sustenance more freely on some of you than on others: those more favored are not going to throw back their gifts to those whom their right hands possess, so as to be equal in that respect. Will they then deny the favors of Allah?"
The Bible on Wikisource.
  • As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve one another.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 311-13.
  • It is more blessed to give than to receive.
    • Acts, XX. 35.
  • Like giving a pair of laced ruffles to a man that has never a shirt on his back.
  • It is not the weight of jewel or plate,
    Or the fondle of silk or fur;
    'Tis the spirit in which the gift is rich,
    As the gifts of the Wise Ones were,
    And we are not told whose gift was gold,
    Or whose was the gift of myrrh.
  • The gift, to be true, must be the flowing of the giver unto me, correspondent to my flowing unto him.
  • It is said that gifts persuade even the gods.
  • Denn Geben ist Sache des Reichen.
  • Die Gaben
    Kommen von oben herab, in ihren eignen Gestalten.
  • Der Mutter schenk' ich,
    Die Tochter denk' ich.
  • Rare gift! but oh, what gift to fools avails!
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book 10, line 29. Pope's translation.
  • Omne supervacuum pleno de pectore manat.
    • Everything that is superfluous overflows from the full bosom.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 337.
  • Noli equi dentes inspicere donati.
    • Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
    • St. Jerome, On the Epistie to the Ephesians. According to Richard Chenevix Trench, explanation that his writings were free-will offerings, when fault was found with them. Found also in Vulgaria Stambrigi. (About 1510).
  • "Presents," I often say, "endear Absents."
  • Denn der Wille
    Und nicht die Gabe macht den Geber.
  • Parvis mobilis rebus animus muliebris.
    • A woman's mind is affected by the meanest gifts.
    • Livy, Annales, VI. 34.
  • Not what we give, but what we share,—
    For the gift without the giver is bare.
  • In giving, a man receives more than he gives, and the more is in proportion to the worth of the thing given.
  • Quisquis magna dedit, voluit sibi magna remitti.
    • Whoever makes great presents, expects great presents in return.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), V. 59. 3.
  • Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
    • Matthew, VII. 9.
  • And wisest he in this whole wide land
    Of hoarding till bent and gray;
    For all you can hold in your cold, dead hand
    Is what you have given away.
    . . . . . .
    He gave with a zest and he gave his best;
    Give him the best to come.
  • All we can hold in our cold dead hands is what we have given away.
    • Old Sanscrit proverb.
  • Res est ingeniosa dare.
    • Giving requires good sense.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), I. 8. 62.
  • Majestatem res data dantis habet.
    • The gift derives its value from the rank of the giver.
    • Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, IV. 9. 68.
  • Acceptissima semper munera sunt auctor quæ pretiosa facit.
    • Those gifts are ever the most acceptable which the giver makes precious.
    • Ovid, Heriodes, XVII. 71.
  • Dicta docta pro datis.
    • Smooth words in place of gifts.
    • Plautus, Asinaria, Act III.
  • Altera manu fert lapidem, panem ostentat altera.
    • In one hand he bears a stone, with the other offers bread.
    • Plautus, Aulularia, Act II. 2. 18.
  • The horseleech hath two daughters, crying Give, give.
    • Proverbs, XXX. 15.
  • Bis dat qui cito dat.
    • He gives twice who gives quickly.
    • Credited to Publius Mimus by Langius, in Polyanth. Noviss, p. 382. Erasmus—Adagia, p. 265, (Ed. 1579) quoting Seneca. Compare Seneca, De Beneficiis, II. 1. Homer—Iliad, XVIII. 98. Title of epigram in a book entitled Joannis Owen, Oxeniensis Angli Epigrammatum. (1632) P. 148. Also in Manipulus Sacer, Concionum Maralium, Collectus ex Voluminibus R. P. Hieremiæ Drexelii (1644). Euripides, Rhes. 333. Ausonius, Epigram 83. 1. (Trans.) Alciatus, Emblemata 162.
  • He always looked a given horse in the mouth.
  • Back of the sound broods the silence, back of the gift stands the giving;
    Back of the hand that receives thrill the sensitive nerves of receiving.
  • Fabius Verrucosus beneficium ab homine duro aspere datum, panem lapidosum vocabat.
    • Fabius Verrucosus called a favor roughly bestowed by a hard man, bread made of stone.
    • Seneca the Younger, De Beneficiis, II. 7.
  • Deus quædam munera universo humano generi dedit, a quibus excluditur nemo.
    • God has given some gifts to the whole human race, from which no one is excluded.
    • Seneca the Younger, De Beneficiis, IV. 28.
  • Cum quod datur spectabis, et dantem adspice!
    While you look at what is given, look also at the giver.
  • Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally.
    I would we could do so, for her benefits are mightily misplaced, and the bountiful blind woman doth most mistake in her gifts to women.
  • All other gifts appertinent to man, as the malice of this age shapes them, are not worth a gooseberry.
  • Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
    • I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), II. 49.
  • Parta meæ Veneri sunt munera; namque notavi
    Ipse locum aëriæ quo congessere palumbes.
    • I have found out a gift for my fair;
      I have found where the wood-pigeons breed.
    • Virgil, Eclog, III. 68. English by Shenstone. Pastoral, II. Hope. Erroneously attributed to Rowe by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown's School Days.
  • Denn was ein Mensch auch hat, so sind's am Ende Gaben.
    • For whatever a man has, is in reality only a gift.
    • Wieland—Oberen, II. 19.
  • Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity,
    When I give I give myself.
  • Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
    Of nicely calculated less or more.
  • She gave me eyes, she gave me ears;
    And humble cares, and delicate fears;
    A heart, the fountain of sweet tears;
    And love, and thought, and joy.
  • That every gift of noble origin
    Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath.



See also

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