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Gifts vs. Presents

Posted by Al on December 01, 2003

In Reply to: Gifts vs. Presents posted by R. Berg on December 01, 2003

: : : In a discussion with a great Aussie blond (who will be nameless here) the topic of gifts vs presents came up. With some little reflection I told her that in my part of the western US there is some little difference, and that I personally use gift when I am talking about something given to an acquaintance or a business associate -- i.e a gift is given without necessarily a lot of affection. We give housewarming gifts to celebrate a new home of a friend or acquaintance.
: : : We give presents to our family and to those people where there is an affectionate relationship.

: : : Is there any rhyme or reason for the distinction elsewhere in the English speaking world?

: : None in my part of the world -- Ky. and W.Va.

: I think "present" is a little more informal or less elegant. The Three Wise Men brought gifts, not presents. Commercial promotions that include some sort of bonus always call it a gift: "Stop In Today for Your Free* Gift!"

: *That's the well-known redundant commercial "free."

I would agree that in the US a "present" MAY be more informal but I would suggest that it also MAY be more elegant. Christmas presents are often quite formal. Kobe's diamond present was quite elegant.