I'm looking for a single word that means "little gift":

Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a _____ of ten dollars to spend.

As for the context, it should be like one you'd see in letters between close friends i.e. informal and the word shouldn't be too long.

  • A small caveat. In vernaculars in which I am familiar, "a little something" is often used in an ironic sense. "Here's a litlle something for you" might be said by the giver just as the toe of one of his shoes makes contact with a sensitive part of the giftee's anatomy. Or, it might be said by the giver as he pulls the trigger.
    – J. Taylor
    Dec 9, 2018 at 16:08
  • 1
    @J.Taylor I think you meant to comment on ab2's answer
    – wjandrea
    Dec 9, 2018 at 16:22
  • @wjandrea ...actually it was a caveat to the OP about use. I do not object to ab2's answer and was not commenting on it. I do get nervous when someone "has a little something" for me..
    – J. Taylor
    Dec 9, 2018 at 16:30
  • @J.Taylor That may be the case in America. It doesn't routinely carry that connotation in Britain, though there is no reason why it might not. My usual impression is that Americans do not use as much irony as we do. I recall that during the first Gulf War, the RAF had a weapon designed to crater an enemy's runway, and leave a hole the size of a London bus. When explaining these to US Commanders the RAF officers kept talking about "paying them a visit" - meaning doing a bombing run. I remember one of the senior Americans (appearing on TV) being quite amused about this form of banter.
    – WS2
    Dec 9, 2018 at 21:45
  • 2
    Trinket, which is, “a little something.”
    – M.Mat
    Dec 10, 2018 at 4:01

8 Answers 8


little something

Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a little something to spend.

Macmillan defines this phrase as:

a present that you give someone to thank them, that is not very expensive. [Example] It’s just a little something to show how much we appreciate your help.

My aunt used this phrase all the time especially when she sent me money enclosed in a letter when I was in college.

Just sending you a little something! Spend it foolishly!

And there is nothing wrong with small gift or token gift, although token means, according to Collins

You use token to describe things or actions which are small or unimportant but are meant to show particular intentions or feelings which may not be sincere.

A token gift can be a small gift, even one of no monetary value, but sincere, despite the qualifier above. (Note that may here means sometimes, not always.) One example from Collins is:

We presented both our guests with token gifts of appreciation. Hebblethwaite, Peter Paul VI - The First Modern Pope (1993)

  • 6
    Token strikes me as the closest match to the request, and has the advantage of being appropriate as a single word as well.
    – Robobunny
    Dec 9, 2018 at 18:14
  • 1
    While these are all suitable expressions, the OP did specifically ask for a single word. Dec 10, 2018 at 0:44
  • "Note that may here means sometimes, not always." – well, then the fact a token gift can be sincere is not despite the qualifier, is it? It's quite in agreement with the qualifier, seems to me.
    – Andriy M
    Dec 10, 2018 at 1:45
  • A token is meant to symbolize something. "Token of my affection". Token's don't actually have a size restriction. Dec 10, 2018 at 5:50

Token might be the word you're looking for.

Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a token of ten dollars to spend.


Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a token amount of ten dollars to spend.

Google defines has two definitions that I believe work well together to sum up what you're trying to say:

A voucher ... typically one given as a gift or offered as part of a promotional offer.


Done for the sake of appearances or as a symbolic gesture.

Together, this word can be used colloquially to mean a small gift given less for the value of the gift itself, and more for the thought behind it.

  • 1
    Google basically "has" only information it pulls from other web sites.  Please don't say you got information from Google; find the actual, original source, identify it by name, and link to it. Dec 10, 2018 at 1:43
  • 1
    Google pulls its definitions from Google Dictionary, which in turn sources its information from Oxford University Press's oxforddictionaries.com, but not from any single dictionary. Therefore, Google is indeed its own source in this instance.
    – Numilani
    Dec 10, 2018 at 1:54
  • 1
    OK, can you provide a source for that?  When I do a Google search for "google dictionary", the most definitive-looking result I see is Wikipedia, which says "Google Dictionary is an online dictionary service of Google .... The dictionary content is licensed from Oxford University Press's OxfordDictionaries.com." (emphasis added)  I believe that you're confusing messenger and author. Dec 10, 2018 at 2:10
  • 1
    @Ambrosia Welcome to EL&U, but do note that the community here has firmly decided that Google alone is not an acceptable source, and that is unlikely to change.
    – choster
    Dec 10, 2018 at 16:51

From regional American English dialect: (East, Southeast and Central Plains) :

Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a sirsee of ten dollars to spend.


"Sorry I missed your birthday so i got this sirsee for you."

Sirsee, from Room Mom blog and A Way with Words

Spelling variations– circe, circi, surcy, surcee

Definition– (n) word used in the south to mean a small, thoughtful gift.

The Dictionary of American Regional English (paywall) has a listing of "sirsee" (variously spelled "circe," "circi," "surcy"). East and South east U.S.: NC, SC, GA, and PA, as well as two reports from Buffalo, NY and Oklahoma. The etymology is uncertain, but one plausible source is the Scot/Irish verb "sussie," meaning "to take trouble, to care, to bother oneself."


  • +1 because this is a new word for me. I never heard of it before, although Circe did have a little surprise for Ulysses.
    – ab2
    Dec 9, 2018 at 17:49
  • 12
    As a 26-year-old American, I've never heard or seen/read sirsee in my life... Dec 9, 2018 at 18:05
  • @ChrisCirefice The answer does specify that the answer is regional. Your profile page says you're from Michigan, versus "sirsee" apparently being from the South, so it's not too surprising that you haven't heard it. (I haven't heard of it either, but again I'm not hooked into Southern regional expressions.) -- That said, it is a point against it, as it doesn't seem to be a word that's well known outside of its native region. (lbf, it might be good to be more explicit about where exactly in the US it's used, either from DARE or elsewhere)
    – R.M.
    Dec 9, 2018 at 20:28
  • @R.M. Exactly, I probably should have mentioned in my comment that it would make sense to update the answer with which U.S. region the word is used in. since it seems to be a southernism (a particular area in the south maybe, west coast vs east cost?). It would be a good idea to note that in the answer :) Dec 9, 2018 at 20:31
  • 3
    @R.M. I'm 44 and have spent the majority of my life in the Southeastern US. I've never heard of this either
    – Kevin
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:23

Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a soupçon of ten dollars to spend.

  • 1
    Please note, the system has flagged your answer for deletion as "low-quality because of its length and content." An answer on this site is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct. I suggest you edit your answer - for example, adding a published definition (linked to the source) and an explanation of why yours is the correct word for the context. For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the Tour :-) Dec 11, 2018 at 3:50

A small gift given to a guest speaker or other volunteer can be called an honorarium.

Cambridge Dictionary defines it as:

a usually small amount of money paid to someone for a service for which no official charge is made:

  • 1
    The question specifically asks for something informal, to use between close friends, and I really don't think "honorarium" is fitting. It is very old-fashioned and formal-sounding, and refers to a commercial relationship not a friendly gift.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 12, 2018 at 16:10
  • @StuartF You don't sound like you're much fun. I could definitely use this for a small gift for a close friend. Not sure it's all that old-fashioned either- it's commonly used in the specific context of guest speakers, in my experience. It's almost as formulaic as the "without further adieu” which follows an introduction. Dec 12, 2018 at 16:18

Means "little gift": between close friends, informal and the word shouldn't be too long.

Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a _____ of ten dollars to spend.

Between close friends $10 is a small amount (the location would be limited to countries that have dollars, otherwise another currency would have been specified), to add to the informality an exaggeration or acknowledgement of the worthlessness is commonly used.



  • Paltry - adjective - trivial: of little worth or importance, meager: deficient in quality or quantity, measly: contemptibly small.

    Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a paltry ten dollars to spend.


  • Lousy [2b] - adjective - miserably poor or inferior.

    Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a lousy ten dollars to spend.


Oxford Dictionaries:

  • Paltry - adjective - (of an amount) very small or meager: (of something provided or available) lacking in quantity or quality.

    Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a meager ten dollars to spend.


  • Scant - adjective - barely sufficient or adequate.

    Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a scant ten dollars to spend.


  • Derisory - adjective - ridiculously small or inadequate.

    Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a derisory ten dollars to spend.


  • Pitiful - adjective - very small or poor; inadequate.

    Sorry I couldn't buy you anything, but here's a pitiful ten dollars to spend.

  • 2
    Most of these sound condescending, as if it is an oh-so-terrible gift
    – kepe
    Dec 10, 2018 at 16:36

In colloquial Scots of some vintage, this would be a wee minding or wee mindin':

A small present given as a mark of goodwill rather than for a particular occasion

Source: Stevenson, J. A., & Macleod, I. (2015). Scoor-oot: A dictionary of Scots words and phrases in current use. London: Bloomsbury.


A "wee minding" is how you would describe a gift given for no particular reason. One use of the word "mind" is to remember something or someone, or to call them to memory.

Source: https://sugarnellie.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-wee-minding.html


This is an interesting question that my not have a simple, acceptable answer.

... here is a remembrance of ten dollars

may suffice for the given example, especially the definition (5a):

5 a : something that serves to keep in or bring to mind : REMINDER


c : a greeting or gift recalling or expressing friendship or affection

  • 2
    Which definition in the link you provided is intended here? For me it seems like none of them work.
    – kepe
    Dec 9, 2018 at 14:44
  • 1
    5a : something that serves to keep in or bring to mind : reminder b : commemoration, memorial c : a greeting or gift recalling or expressing friendship or affection
    – J. Taylor
    Dec 9, 2018 at 14:48

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