verb (used with object), gave, giv·en, giv·ing.

  1. to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow: to give a birthday present to someone.
  2. to hand to someone: Give me that plate, please.
  3. to place in someone’s care: If you give me your coat, I’ll put it in the closet.
  4. to grant (permission, opportunity, etc.) to someone: Give me a chance.
  5. to impart or communicate: to give advice; to give a cold to someone.
  6. to set forth or show; present; offer: He gave no reason for his lateness.
  7. to pay or transfer possession to another in exchange for something: They gave five dollars for the picture. He gave me the car for $800.
  8. to furnish, provide, or proffer: to give evidence; Let me give you my umbrella before you go out in this rain.
  9. to provide as an entertainment or social function: to give a New Year’s Eve party.
  10. to deal or administer: to give a blow to someone; to give medicine to a patient.
  11. to put forth, emit, or utter; issue: to give a cry; to give a command.
  12. to assign or admit as a basis of calculation or reasoning (usually used passively): These facts being given, the argument makes sense.
  13. to produce, yield, or afford: to give good results; 9 × 8 gives 72; The hen gave six eggs a week.
  14. to make, do, or perform: to give a start; to give a lurch.
  15. to perform or present publicly: to give a play; to give a concert.
  16. to cause; be responsible for (usually followed by an infinitive): They gave me to understand that you would be there.
  17. to care about something to the value or extent of (something fanciful): I don’t give a hoot about his opinion.
  18. to relinquish or sacrifice: to give one’s life for a cause.
  19. to convey or transmit: Give Aunt Betty my love.
  20. to assign or allot: Give every man a full ration of biscuits. They gave him the name of “Joseph.”
  21. to bestow (the object of one’s choice) upon, as if by providence: Give me the wide open spaces anytime.
  22. to be connected with, as by a telephone operator: Give me 235-7522.
  23. to present to an audience, as an entertainer, speaker, or act: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the governor of Texas.
  24. to attribute or ascribe: to give the devil his due; After long study the critic gave the unsigned work to a minor impressionist.
  25. to cause or occasion: She gives me a pain in the neck.
  26. to apply fully or freely: He gives his free time to golf.
  27. to award by verdict or after consideration: A decision was given for the defendant.
  28. to inflict as a punishment on another; punish by; impose a sentence of: The judge gave him five years.
  29. to pledge, offer as a pledge, or execute and deliver: He gave her his promise. Can you give bond?
  30. to propose as the subject of a toast (followed by an indirect object): Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our country.
  31. to bear to a man; deliver (followed by an indirect object): She gave him a beautiful baby boy.
  32. to sire upon a woman; father (followed by an indirect object): He gave her two children in the first five years of marriage.
  33. to concede or grant, as a point in an argument.

verb (used without object), gave, giv·en, giv·ing.

  1. to make a gift or gifts; contribute: to give to the United Way.
  2. to yield somewhat, as to influence or force; compromise: We can’t negotiate until each side is willing to give on some points.
  3. to yield somewhat when subjected to weight, force, pressure, etc.: A horsehair mattress doesn’t give much.
  4. to collapse; break down; fall apart; fail: The antique chair gave when I sat on it.
  5. to be warm and open in relationships with other persons: a withdrawn person who doesn’t know how to give.
  6. Informal. to divulge information: Okay now, give! What happened?
  7. to afford a view or passage; face, open, or lead (usually followed by on, onto, etc.): The window gives on the sea. This door gives onto the hallway.


  1. the quality or state of being resilient; springiness.

Verb Phrases

  1. give away,
    1. to give as a present; bestow.
    2. to present (the bride) to the bridegroom in a marriage ceremony.
    3. to expose or betray (a person).
    4. to reveal (a confidence or secret, hidden motives, true feelings, etc.): That remark gave away his real feelings.
  2. give back, to return (something), as to its owner; restore: You haven’t given back the books you borrowed from me.
  3. give birth to. birth(def 10).
  4. give in,
    1. to acknowledge defeat; yield.
    2. to hand in; deliver: Please give in your timecards.
  5. give of, to devote or contribute generously of: to give of oneself; to give of one’s abundance.
  6. give off, to put forth; emit: The gardenia gives off a very strong fragrance.
  7. give out,
    1. to send out; emit.
    2. to make public; announce.
    3. to distribute; issue.
    4. to become exhausted.
    5. to become used up; fail: The fuel gave out.
    6. to do or express something, especially unrestrainedly or easily: to give out with a song.
  8. give over,
    1. to put into the care of; transfer: She gave over all her property to her daughter.
    2. to put an end to; stop: They will never give over their impossible dreams.
    3. to indulge in without restraint: She gave herself over to tears.
    4. to devote to a specified activity: The day was given over to relaxing in the sun.
  9. give up,
    1. to abandon hope; despair.
    2. to desist from; renounce: to give up smoking.
    3. to surrender; relinquish.
    4. to devote (oneself) entirely to: She gave herself up to her job and seldom saw her old friends.
    5. South Midland consider; deem: She’s given up to be the kindest woman around here.
  1. give and take,
    1. to compromise in order to cooperate: A willingness to give and take is important for success in marriage.
    2. to exchange ideas: an informal meeting in which there would be opportunities to give and take.
  2. give battle. battle1(def 10).
  3. give ground, to yield before superior force, as of arms or of reasoning.
  4. give it to, Informal. to reprimand or punish: His father really gave it to him for coming home so late.
  5. give or take, plus or minus a specified amount; more or less: It will cost $20, give or take a dollar or two.
  6. give rise to. rise(def 55).
  7. give way. way1(def 25).

verb gives, giving, gave (ɡeɪv) or given (ˈɡɪvən) (mainly tr)

  1. (also intr) to present or deliver voluntarily (something that is one’s own) to the permanent possession of another or others
  2. (often foll by for) to transfer (something that is one’s own, esp money) to the possession of another as part of an exchangeto give fifty pounds for a painting
  3. to place in the temporary possession of anotherI gave him my watch while I went swimming
  4. (when intr, foll by of) to grant, provide, or bestowgive me some advice
  5. to administerto give a reprimand
  6. to award or attributeto give blame, praise, etc
  7. to be a source ofhe gives no trouble
  8. to impart or communicateto give news; give a person a cold
  9. to utter or emitto give a shout
  10. to perform, make, or dothe car gave a jolt and stopped
  11. to sacrifice or devotehe gave his life for his country
  12. to surrenderto give place to others
  13. to concede or yieldI will give you this game
  14. (intr) informal to happenwhat gives?
  15. (often foll by to) to cause; leadshe gave me to believe that she would come
  16. (foll by for) to value (something) atI don’t give anything for his promises
  17. to perform or present as an entertainmentto give a play
  18. to propose as a toastI give you the Queen
  19. (intr) to yield or break under force or pressurethis surface will give if you sit on it; his courage will never give
  20. give as good as one gets to respond to verbal or bodily blows to at least an equal extent as those received
  21. give battle to commence fighting
  22. give birth (often foll by to)
    1. to bear (offspring)
    2. to produce, originate, or create (an idea, plan, etc)
  23. give a person five or give a person some skin slang to greet or congratulate someone by slapping raised hands
  24. give ground to draw back or retreat
  25. give it up for someone slang to applaud someone
  26. give someone one British slang to have sex with someone
  27. give rise to to be the cause of
  28. give me informal I prefergive me hot weather any day!
  29. give or take plus or minusthree thousand people came, give or take a few hundred
  30. give way See way (def. 24)
  31. give a person what for informal to punish or reprimand a person severely


  1. a tendency to yield under pressure; resiliencethere’s bound to be some give in a long plank; there is no give in his moral views

Old English giefan (W. Saxon) “to give, bestow; allot, grant; commit, devote, entrust,” class V strong verb (past tense geaf, past participle giefen), from Proto-Germanic *gebanan (cf. Old Frisian jeva, Middle Dutch gheven, Dutch geven, Old High German geban, German geben, Gothic giban), from PIE *ghabh- “to take, hold, have, give” (see habit). It became yiven in Middle English, but changed to guttural “g” by influence of Old Norse gefa “to give,” Old Danish givæ. Meaning “to yield to pressure” is from 1570s.

Give in “yield” is from 1610s; give out is mid-14c., “publish, announce;” meaning “run out, break down” is from 1520s. Give up “surrender” is mid-12c. To give (someone) a cold seems to reflect the old belief that one could be cured of disease by deliberately infecting others. What gives? “what is happening?” is attested from 1940. Give-and-take (n.) is originally from horse racing (1769) and refers to races in which bigger horses were given more weight to carry, lighter ones less. General sense attested by 1778.

In addition to the idioms beginning with give

  • give a bad name to
  • give a break
  • give a damn
  • give a good account of oneself
  • give a hand
  • give a hang
  • give a hard time
  • give a hoot
  • give a leg up
  • give and take
  • give an inch and they’ll take a mile
  • give a pain
  • give a piece of one’s mind
  • give as good as one gets
  • give a shit
  • give away
  • give a wide berth
  • give bad marks to
  • give birth to
  • give chase
  • give color to
  • give credit
  • give free rein to
  • give ground
  • give in
  • give it one’s best shot
  • give it to
  • give me a break
  • give notice
  • given to
  • give off
  • give of oneself
  • give one
  • give oneself airs
  • give oneself away
  • give oneself up
  • give one’s eyeteeth
  • give or take
  • give out
  • give over
  • give pause
  • give rein to
  • give rise to
  • give short shrift
  • give someone
  • give someone a break
  • give someone a ring
  • give someone heart failure
  • give someone hell
  • give someone his or her due
  • give someone his or her head
  • give someone the air
  • give someone the evil eye
  • give someone the once-over
  • give someone enough rope
  • give someone fits
  • give something a whirl
  • give thanks for small blessings
  • give the back of one’s hand
  • give the benefit of the doubt
  • give the business
  • give the creeps
  • give the devil his due
  • give the eye
  • give the finger
  • give the go-ahead
  • give the lie to
  • give the shirt off one’s back
  • give the slip
  • give the time of day
  • give the word
  • give the works
  • give to understand
  • give up
  • give up the ghost
  • give vent to
  • give voice to
  • give way
  • give way to
  • give what for

also see:

  • hard time (give someone a)
  • Indian giver
  • never give a sucker an even break
  • not care (give) a rap
  • not give someone the time of day
  • what’s cooking (gives)

Also see under idioms beginning withget and have.

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