In the way that we can think of a gift as given under obligation, like to signify a relationship at Christmas or to show love for a spouse, is there a word for a thing taken. A word for that thing that we want to take back when someone takes something from us?

  • Can you give a sample sentence where you might use this word? – KillingTime Nov 13 '19 at 21:11
  • That’s the exact problem I’m having! I don’t think we have the conceptual framework to talk about it, but it’s an important part of the way we think about objects. Like we forget how inalienable they are until they are taken from us! – Adam Nov 13 '19 at 21:19
  • Perhaps withholding (n.). (OED definition of withhold (v.): "To keep back; to keep in one's possession (what belongs to, is due to, or is desired by another); to refrain from giving, granting, or allowing.") – 0.. Nov 13 '19 at 21:43
  • 2
    You mean taxes? 🤔 – Laurel Nov 13 '19 at 21:58
  • The only thing I can think of is a price or charge, but that's only in business transactions. If someone takes something without permission, we usually just want that thing back, not something in exchange. – Barmar Nov 13 '19 at 22:52

If I give you a gift, I reward you with something.

In contrast, if I take something away from you, then I am either punishing or penalizing you. As such, I would say that, in general, the opposite of a gift is a punishment or penalty.

In terms of something specific, it would be a forfeiture:

1 : the act of forfeiting : the loss of property or money because of a breach of a legal obligation
// assets subject to forfeiture
2 : something (such as money or property) that is forfeited : PENALTY

// the forfeiture for early withdrawal of the investment savings will be an amount equal to 10 percent of the investment


There is retribution

Defined by Merriam Webster as:

3 : something given or exacted in recompense especially : PUNISHMENT

That thing we take back when someone takes something from us is retribution for what they've done.

  • Well, I don't often comment on unexplained downvotes, but this one seems ridiculous. OP asks for a word "for that thing we want to take back when someone takes something from us." That seems like retribution to me. Especially when a retribution is a form of punishment which is an upvoted answer. I wonder if anyone would care to explain why is so wrong that it deserves not just no vote, but a downvote. – Jim Nov 24 '19 at 3:45

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