Normally one can add -tion or -ation to a verb to make it nominal, but that nominalization doesn't work for "give". Is there a nominalized form of "to give"? If not, is there a word that could serve the same purpose?

In other words, what word means "the act of giving"?

  • 2
    Why would giving (the process), giver, and gift (that which is given) not suffice? Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:10
  • Giving seems to refer to the concept ("giving is the spirit of Christmas"), while the nominal form refers to a specific occurrence of the verb. For example: "nominalization" versus "nominilizing".
    – Yokel
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:16
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    There is no real difference in that respect between the gerund and derived nouns in -ation; compare apply -> applying/application, where the latter can either be the general concept (“the application of lotion/applying lotion to dry skin is important” = “applying oil to dry skin is important”) or a specific instance of it (“I’m trying to convince them through applying/application to their nobler self”). The same is true of giving (“the giving of presents is a common Yuletide tradition” vs. “before the turkey, a hearftelt giving of thanks is expected”). Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:23
  • Suppose we're using the word without sentencial context. -ing implies the gerund sense before any other, where as -tion implies the nominal form before any other. While they are interchangeable in some circumstances, they have different "priorities" of meaning.
    – Yokel
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:27
  • 1
    Then there is no such word. Giving fills both functions for this verb. You’ll have to see if you can find a different verb that has a derived abstract noun (such as donate -> donation, for example) if you want to be absolutely sure no gerundial meaning is possible. Note, however, that -ation nouns often share with gift the property that they (can) refer to what is the object of a verbal form, rather than the act of [verb]ing itself. A donation is a kind of gift, for example, and a sensation is the thing that you sense. Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:39

4 Answers 4


Perhaps the related gifting might be preferred, but that has another more usual sense.

You're right; there does seem a lack of an ideal noun here.

'Donation' (sense (1) below) works (as Janus suggests it might):



  1. an act or instance of presenting something as a gift, grant, or contribution.

  2. a gift, as to a fund; contribution.

{Dictionary.reference.com}, but again, the normal sense (2) is what people would expect (I don't know why it's listed second here).

But note that AHDEL, for instance, does not seem to include the 'one-off action' sense:

  1. The act [I assume practice] of giving to a fund or cause.

  2. A gift or grant.


Is there a nominalized form of "to give"?

There are three; give, gift and completely separately, give.

Of the sense of the verb meaning "to transfer to another person, to donate" we have the noun give referring to the actual thing donated from Old English until around the early 14th century then dying out. We also have it used for the act of giving from the late 13th until the early 14th:

The spellings ȝefe, ȝiftes and yeue are found for this sense.

But then that died out with gift becoming the form used for the act of giving (as well as for the thing given, in which use it is currently much more common). This continued into use until the 19th century:

Language always makes gift of its best wealth to a great poet. — Henry Reed, Lectures on English literature, a1854.

Wouldn't have'em at a gift. — Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's school days, 1857

The idiom "in one's gift" used this sense of the word to mean "in one's power or right of giving":

The minor appointive offices which lie in his own gift. — James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, 1888.

I'd recognise that sense today, though consider it archaic. While I imagine the straight use of the word in that sense is largely obsolete today (though the OED doesn't list it as such).

Separately from that, the verb give acquired the sense of "yield" which give us yet another separate noun sense of give, the fact of yielding or the degree of doing so:

They began levelling the pitch at 8 a.m. this morning and if the weather stays fine we should have a fair surface with some give in it. The Times (London) 1970.

This sense is still very much current.

The others not so much, and as a matter of current-day word choice I'd suggest donation or perhaps giving, but as a question about morphological nominalisation the answer is give, and also gift.

  • "a gift" (noun) - something that is given to another person or to a group or organization

  • "give" (noun) - "the ability of a material to bend or stretch. e.g. "This fabric has a lot of give."

  • "giver" (noun) - " someone who gives something to another person."

Edit, after the OP edited. Giving is the word for the act of giving. "Giving is the best gift"

  • A gift is something that is given, not the act of giving.
    – Yokel
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:18
  • 'Giving' is the proper noun, 'give' refers to 1. Capacity or inclination to yield under pressure. 2. The quality or condition of resilience; springiness.
    – user66974
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:26
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    Strangely redolent of the 'comment' I posted. Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:27
  • @EdwinAshworth That's in every dictionary. I started answering the moment the question was posted. When I copy from comments, I give the credit.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 23:34
  • @Yokel actually gift has indeed meant the act of giving from about as long back as it has meant the thing given, but has died out in that sense except in the derived idiom "in his gift" to mean "in his power to give".
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 4:36

Use "giftation" or "giftion" as nominalizations of "to give" that exclude the gerund.

  • 1
    Can you add a sentence or two showing how these words would be used?
    – Frank
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 5:13

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