Say your friend A bought you a present on your birthday. Then long after the birthday, you gathered with your friends including A and were talking casually and A mentions the gift they had bought for you. . . After a while, on another occasion, A mentions that gift again and tells you that they had bought you a present. . . After some time on another occasion, he mentions it again and makes you annoyed about the gift.

What word would you use for the process of mentioning the gift persistently?

An example sentence would go like:

A bought a present for me and then "...WORD..."ed it on every occasion

A phrase or an idiom would also do.

  • 1
    waved it in my face
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 22:01

14 Answers 14


It depends on the gift giver's intent, but could he have been "holding it over" you or "lording it over" you?

Either way, he "never let you forget" that he once gave you that gift. And you may "never hear the end of it."

  • 4
    It'd be great if you could include the definitions for each phrase in your answer..
    – Justin
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 15:48
  • Another similar one is "never let it go..." Also "never let me forget."
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 19:52

Milked it for all it was worth

Free Dictionary definition


never let them forget it


John once drove Jane to the airport as a favor, and he never let her forget it. Just the other day, twenty years later, he asked Jane to get him some coffee; saying, "Remember when I drove you to the airport? The least you can do is get me a cup of coffee."


'Harping on' is the term.

She bought me a nice gift/saved me some money/ did me a great favour - and cannot stop harping on about it.

Collins concise dictionary.


You could use "bring up" in conjunction with "broken record" -

Bring [something] up:

To mention someone or something in conversation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "bring" and "up."

A broken record:

a damaged record that repeats part of a recording over and over again —used figuratively in describing something (such as a statement or experience) that is frequently or tediously repeated

For example,

A bought a present for me and then brought it up on every occasion [like a broken record]..

Here's something else you can use -

Labor the point:

To talk about or emphasize something excessively and perhaps repetitively, usually to the extent that the listener becomes bored or annoyed.

If someone labours the point, they keep explaining something or emphasizing a fact even though people have already understood it.

A: "I don't mean to labor the point, but I'm just worried that there won't be enough food at the party."

B: "Yeah, we know, you've said that 10 times now."

For example,

A bought a present for me and then labored the point on every occasion..

I also found a [Latin] phrase that could possibly fit in your scenario -

Ad nauseam [ad naw-zee-uh m]

used to refer to the fact that something has been done or repeated so often that it has become annoying or tiresome.


Ad nauseam is a Latin phrase that literally means “to nausea”.

Use ad nauseam to describe something that’s been repeated or discussed so long that you’re sick of hearing about it.


: so many times that it annoys people.


For example,

A bought a present for me and then brought it up ad nauseam on every occasion.

  • 2
    "belabor the point" is also used in the exact same way as "labor the point". According to this prior EL&U post, it appears to be largely a BritE/AmE difference. english.stackexchange.com/questions/231748/…
    – weissj
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 18:55
  • @weissj No, it is belabor in AmE too.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 22:00
  • @lambie - Sorry my comment wasn't clear. Belabor seems to be the preferred AmE expression while labour is more common in in BritE. I'm an AmE speaker and had never seen the labor/labour incarnation before this post.
    – weissj
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 13:13

Guilt tripping which is a form of manipulation to get someone to do something or give you emotional support or affection by making them feel guilty or obligated.


I have encountered at least three possibilities:

... and then brought it up on every occasion.

... and then went on about it on every occasion.

... and then harked back to it on every occasion.

Hark back = If someone harks back to something in the past, they talk about it again and again, often in a way that annoys other people


Go on about = To continue or speak for a tedious or exasperating length of time.

The Free Dictionary

Bring up = to start to talk about a particular subject:

“She's always bringing up her health problems.”


Of these three, I suggest harking back is the best, both for its defined implication of reference to the past and for its (to me anyway, perhaps because of rhyming with “bark” and “nark”) almost onomatopoeic grating aural quality.

  • 1
    "Go on about" sounds somewhat British to me, although I've probably heard it in AmE as well.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 15:39
  • 1
    'Hark back' does indeed mean refer to something in the past, but doesn't necessarily mean doing it often.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 9:23
  • 1
    @Tim I agree with you from the limited viewpoint of “necessarily”, although the Cambridge dictionary does not.
    – Anton
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 9:32

The phrase that comes to mind is banged on, which can be used in he just banged on about the gift for the rest of the day.

My guess is that this derives from banging one’s own drum.

  • 1
    This seems very Brattish to me Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 16:20

The term "Indian Giver" or "Indian Giving" covers a gift given to you but where the giver either expects to take it back, or is expecting a quid pro quo in return.

If they keep expecting praise for their generosity, this is regarded as a quid pro quo, hence the term can cover this scenario.

  • 6
    That's an antiquated term that comes loaded with inappropriate cultural baggage these days. It's not something I would have used any time this millennium. And, as far as I know, it is very specific - it's someone who gives you a gift and then takes it back somehow (or expects an exact (by value) quid pro quo). It doesn't fit the requested usage
    – Flydog57
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 23:56
  • 3
    @Flydog57 I don't consider it "antiquated"; it may no longer be in common use because it sounds inappropriate for the 21st century, but it still exists. I submitted it because - although it's not a perfect fit for the OP - it is no worse than any of the other answers (so far) that also fail to properly fit the question. When you actually see that the derivation of it is from ignorance of white imperialists, the cultural baggage just falls away....
    – Lefty
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 7:45
  • 3
    Definitely offensive. It refers to the assumption of reciprocity that crops up in small groups of people, and which was encountered by European settlers when dealing with Native Americans. Since everyone in the group knew each other they all had a mental balance sheet of who owed what to whom, but the Europeans didn't appreciate this. The term "Indian" in this context alone is considered offensive, and it also assumes the Euro perspective was the true one. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_giver Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 17:59

Go on, perhaps - To talk excessively, tiresomely, or interminably (about something or at someone). (OED, Macmillan)

A bought a present for me and went on about it on every occasion.


I like the "harped on" answer. You could also say "rubbed my nose in it".


Toby Speight mentions in the White Elephant comments "emotional blackmail" which is a better description of what they are attempting to do.


A bought a present for me and then GLOATED OVER it on every occasion


The term you want is ‘white elephant’.

He gave me a gift, and then made a white elephant of it, making me report to him on it forever afterwards. The emotional upkeep on this gift is overwhelming.

possible antidote: “It’s not a gift if I have to forever answer for how I use it.”

  • 10
    I've never heard the expression used in this context. To me, a white elephant is either an expensive building project that has ended up being little used, or an unwanted possession that you donate to a 'white elephant stall' to raise money for charity. Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 8:36
  • 3
    The original white elephants were owned by the King of Siam (now Thailand), and receiving one as a gift meant expensive upkeep and no practical value (being sacred, they couldn't be put to work). So it often applies to under-used constructions which incur regular maintenance and utility costs despite not generating any value, but I've never heard the term being applied to emotional blackmail of this kind - I think that's a bit of a stretch. Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 15:35
  • 1
    "white elephant" when associated with gift-giving has a rather specific concept in some areas of the US : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_elephant_gift_exchange
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 19:30
  • An example of a White Elephant is Mirabel Airport in Montreal. It was built in the 1970s as a second airport - one for the upcoming millennium. It was far from the city and never caught on. At one point, the Airport, as an inside joke, used a White Elephant design in part of its branding. After costing a fortune, and seeing its traffic dwindle over time, its main terminal was eventually torn down: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. Note that Wikipedia describes it explicitly as a White Elephant
    – Flydog57
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 0:01

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