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verb [intransitive/transitive]

to give someone a gift that you originally received as a gift from someone else


noun [countable]

a gift that was originally given as a gift to another person


noun [uncountable]


noun [countable]



'Given the state of the economy and your bank account, purchasing gifts for certain friends and family may not be possible this holiday season. But no need to worry if that is your situation. Surely you have nice but unused gifts stashed around your home. If so, pull them out to do what in the past might have been unthinkable – regift. More Americans this year are planning on regifting …'

Washington Post 29th November 2009

'Ah, the regift. You know you can spot one as soon as you start to unwrap it. You swear it's a tacky practice you'd never participate in. Yet you know just the person who would truly appreciate that zebra-print Designer Snuggie more than you ever could.'

Observer-Dispatch 26th November 2009

'The biggest regifters appear to reside in the Black Country with 41 per cent of people in Wolverhampton admitting that they plan to 'pass the parcel' this Christmas.'

GMTV 25th November 2009

If the credit crunch continues to bite and you're a bit strapped for cash this Christmas, then look no further than your own four walls for gift-giving inspiration. No, this doesn't mean busily preparing homemade chutneys or carefully crafted needlework. Quite the contrary, it's a practically effortless solution which merely involves rummaging around in drawers and cupboards. Remember that untouched-and-still-in-its-original-box "pasta maker" your sister bought you last year? Now wouldn't it make a great present – for someone else? Go on, grab some wrapping paper, rewrite the label and regift it!

lack of funds … may not be the only motivating factor in the decision to regift. The practice of regifting is also advocated by environmentalist …

Regifting – the practice of giving a gift that you originally received to someone else – is becoming increasingly popular in these recession-struck times. Recent consumer research in the US revealed that more Americans than ever will be recycling presents this year, with around 36% saying that they would consider regifting. The same trend is also evident in the UK, where almost a quarter of Brits are planning to regift unwanted presents.

Lack of funds, however, may not be the only motivating factor in the decision to regift. The practice of regifting is also advocated by environmentalists because it blends seamlessly, both linguistically and ideologically, with the popular mantra: reduce, reuse, recycleregift.

December 17th has now officially become "Regifting Day" in the US. In an attempt to promote recycling and debt avoidance, the day is the brainchild of debt counselling group Money Management International. This date was thought to be appropriate because the third Thursday in December is a popular day for office Christmas parties, and research suggests that 40% of regifters target their colleagues as recipients of regifts.

So then, what is the art of successful regifting? Essential guidelines include ensuring that the gift is suitable for the new recipient, updating the wrapping and thereby removing all trace of evidence that it was intended for someone else, and keeping track of who gave it to you first so that you never, ever, commit the faux pas of regifting it back to that person!

A quick trawl of the Web reveals plenty of humorous references to regifting misdemeanours. Among my favourites is: "The rice cooker I got from my cousin actually had rice in it. But hey, at least I know it works."

Background – regift and regifting

Though the phenomenon of regifting is probably something that has existed since gift-giving began, the lexical gap for a description of this activity was only filled in the mid-nineties. The first use of regift and its derivatives is attributed to the American comedian Jerry Seinfeld. In a 1995 TV show, Superbowl tickets and a label maker were regifted, and the episode took a light-hearted look at the mistakes people make while trying to conceal the fact that something is a regift.

When it first appeared, the phenomenon of regifting took on rather negative overtones due to its association with deception. In more recent years however, against a backdrop of recession, heightened environmental conscience and a surge in popularity of Internet-based selling (e.g. Ebay™), it seems to have become socially acceptable to regift, and the word and its derivatives don't have such negative connotations.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

Last week …

Read last week's BuzzWord. From NIMBY to YIMBY.

This article was first published on 9th December 2009.

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a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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