I'm looking for a word to describe a gift. The way I am using this word is to describe the item in way that a person who receives this gift would almost worship it because it means so much.

The words that I do NOT think work in describing this object include: memento, souvenir, keepsake, memorial (things that make you think about the past)

I'm looking for a word that is SIMILAR to: treasure, idol, pearl (a word that gives significance to the object more it's meaning or origin)

  • So what's wrong with "treasure"? I think "idol" is a bit weird (unless metaphorically applied to people, the word smacks strongly of a "religious totem" for primitives). "Pearl" might be okay in some contexts, but it's pretty figurative/flowery. Mar 12, 2014 at 2:41
  • @FumbleFingers "Treasure", to me says that the object has fiscal value, which isn't what I'm trying to convey. I need a word that is priceless in value. I think "totem" is a great word tho, definitely the right direction. Any other words like totem would probably work for what I need. Thanks! Mar 12, 2014 at 3:14
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    Native speakers routinely use the word figuratively, with no conscious awareness of that connotation. Per OED's second definition: Anything valued and preserved as precious; also of a person, a ‘jewel’, ‘gem’ (colloq.); also as an affectionate term of address. Note particularly that highlighted point - treasure = money is just one sense, as with dear = expensive. Just not when you say "My wife is very dear to me", or "Yes dear, I have put the cat out!" Mar 12, 2014 at 3:32
  • Talisman, totem, charm, amulet, trinket.
    – Ben
    May 23, 2014 at 16:35

5 Answers 5


talisman - anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.

The more "literal, core" sense is a stone, ring, or other object, engraved with figures or characters supposed to possess occult powers and worn as an amulet or charm, but it's often used more loosely as per the above definition (see these example written instances of "treasured talisman").


Treasure may be your best bet. I can't come up with a synonym for gift that conveys the nuance you've described. You may need to add a modifier to articulate the aspect of the gift that makes it worthy of worship, for example "an incomparable treasure." My advice, however, is to keep it simple.


You can use TOTEM (with reference to the movie Inception).

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    Could you explain why you believe the word is suitable? Perhaps look for a definition or usage example that suggests it fits the OP's needs.
    – nxx
    Mar 13, 2014 at 12:31

I think keepsake does not signify anything about its past. It signifies that the person would want to keep the item their whole life and possibly pass it down.

It won't work if you are getting a person a car or an ipad but if it is something that you would expect them to keep I would use this.

  • Thanks! You are right that keepsake doesn't signify something about it's past, but for my purposes the word "keepsake" doesn't feel powerful enough to possess heavy spiritual significance. Any more suggestions? Mar 12, 2014 at 3:08
  • I'm not sure what it is but people often describe religious gifts (cross, picture, locket, rosary) as keepsakes. If it is a spiritual gift then obviously you want to stay away from treasure or "prize". Beyond these you might want an adjective in front of the word gift. Mar 12, 2014 at 3:23

Try the cherishable

cher′ish·a·ble n.

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