What is the word for when someone gives you something for free instead of you paying for it?

For example: Some shopkeeper is about to close his shop, and you catch him just in the nick of time, you get something(anything), nonetheless he's so hurried that he lets you take it for free.

I know it's kind of a bizarre example and also a rarity, but it's the only thing I could come up with.

Much obliged.

  • What's wrong with "for free?" – Misha R Sep 7 '15 at 9:06

The shopkeeper gave it to you gratis.

Derived from the Latin "as a kindness".

  • I would put 'gratis' in italics or quotes. – WS2 Nov 7 '14 at 1:16
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    Why? It is an English word now. – Oldcat Nov 7 '14 at 1:17
  • No it's Latin. In the UK it would be italicised in a serious publication. – WS2 Nov 7 '14 at 1:31
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    Some people still put etc. in quotes. Whuddyagonnadoo [sic]? – Drew Nov 7 '14 at 5:05
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    The Latin word is gratiis from gratia. Gratis is a contraction done by Middle English. – Oldcat Nov 7 '14 at 17:30

Then there's a comp, which is likely an abbreviated version of the word complimentary, meaning free of charge.

In Las Vegas, a casino might "comp" a room for a high roller, since the cost of the room would pale in comparison to the high roller's losses at the gambling tables!

The casino: "We comped Mr. Bigbucks a suite of rooms, since he's a big spender, and a big loser!"

Or your example:

Shopkeeper: "OK, buddy, I'll comp you the ______ this time, but next time, please come a little earlier, and not at the last minute."


From en.wiktionary, freebie means “(informal) Something which is free; a giveaway or handout”. Thus, the item given you is a freebie; it was given to you gratis or on the house, as mentioned in previous answers, or free of charge.

If you had purchased something, and another item were thrown in for free, the term lagniappe could be used. From en.wiktionary, lagniappe means “An extra or unexpected gift or benefit, such as that given to a customer when they purchase something else”.


Gratis, as Oldcat has said.

Or the merchant gave it to you on the house, a common idiom meaning "no charge."

Or he could let you have the item at no charge.

Or as a free sample, but this fits the context the least.

Note to donate something does not fit the context, in AmE.

  • Yeah @Jim except it's not one word. Oh well. – pazzo Nov 7 '14 at 1:39

On the House The shopkeeper or the bartender might say: "Forget it; it's on the house." "Forget it" means forget about paying; "on the house" means that the establishment will absorb the cost. To either a shopkeeper or bartender, you say "Thanks, I appreciate this"; you tip the bartender more than you would tip him/her if you paid for the drink.

"If you have something on the house, it is given to you ​free by a ​business. [example] All the ​drinks were on the house." Cambridge Dictionaries Online


As a single word, it can be called a giveaway also. Both the thing that is given away and the act of giving away.

  • something given away at no charge, especially a premium.

  • an act or instance of giving something away.



In Korea if you buy something and they throw something extra in for free they call it 'Service.' Like I bought a camera and the guy gave me a case and a battery and said 'Service, service'


If someone gave you something for free, it's a donation. The verb is donate. Or gift.

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    donation is not idiomatic in AmE at least for a merchant who gives a customer an item for sale. – pazzo Nov 7 '14 at 1:16
  • @Carsmack then it's shrinkage or theft, but you're working from the example, not the question. – SrJoven Nov 7 '14 at 1:18
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    Theft? When the merchant gives it to you?! Anyway, yes I'm working from the example, because I consider the example more salient than the question, whose field is often too short to describe the exact situation the asker has in mind. – pazzo Nov 7 '14 at 1:24
  • @Carsmack Yes, only in this case it was repeated in the title and the body. And yes, theft, if not donation. If it's not the owner of the company and could be a cashier (I mean, it's tenuous that it's the owner only at the door, but okay...) The owner made a donation or gift. There's nothing wrong with saying that. – SrJoven Nov 7 '14 at 1:26
  • Yup, and how does the idea of cause, auction, raffle, fundraiser, prize even enter into either the question or example? – pazzo Nov 7 '14 at 1:27

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