very giving

Thomas Paikeday t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA
Fri Mar 9 04:48:58 UTC 2001

Frank, Fred Shapiro, et. al.

Thank you both for the very apposite comments. What else are fellow
lexicographers for!

NODE is one dictionary I have yet to acquire; I am ordering it
rightaway. I am somewhat amazed that the words that collocate with
"giving" are "very" and "person," with slight variations in the sentence
structures. This is reinforced by Jesse Hay storknurse's hearing "the
phrase 'a very giving person' quite frequently, and [using] it [herself]
often. . . ." All the available citations show variations of the same

I was interested in "to seem giving," etc. because, as grammmarians
know, the four criteria for adjectives (See Quirk, et. al.:
_Comprehensive Grammar_, 1985) are (1) attributive use; (2) predicative
use with copula "seem"; (3) premodification by "very"; and (4)
comparability. "Giving" seems to fail the second criterion. I wonder if
there is a linguistic theory or model that covers this kind of
participial adjective formation.

(lexicographer since 1964)
Latest work: "The User's(R) Webster"
ISBN 0-920865-03-8


Frank Abate wrote:
> Tom (et al.)
> The New Oxford Dictionary of English has this example:
> "[as adj. ~giving~] he was very giving and supportive"
> It is under the sense 'bestow (love, affection, or other emotional
> support)'.
> This dictionary draws its examples from a corpus, so it is not made up, but
> there is no date given.
> Frank Abate
The earliest cite I find on Nexis for "very giving" is the following:

1982 _Wash. Post_ 24 Jan.  And he's a very giving person.

The Nexis search makes it clear that "very giving" is not the only way
term is used.  The earliest examples of this usage of "giving" that I
are the following:

1980 _N.Y. Times_ 26 Aug.  The person who is ill is not capable of
responding, and the giving person just has to get away some part of the
time to get revitalized.

1981 _N.Y. Times_ 18 Jan.  He is a warm, giving person.

Fred Shapiro
Hi all!

Can anyone find lexicographical citations for "very/quite/seem giving"
in the sense of "very generous," etc. as in "Jack is a very giving
person"? My resources are rather meagre. OED has 4,084 occurrences of
"giving" but no "very giving." A database I used for my last dictionary
has 9,724 of "giving" and two of "a very giving person" (one from TOTAL
HEALTH and another from GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, both 1990). Is "a very giving
person" the only way the word is used? The 13,808 cases of "giving" (OED
+ mine) are too many to scan individually for the phrase in question.

I am trying to determine the frequency and usage of "giving" (=
generous) as a participial adjective. Has anyone heard "He's quite
giving," "He seems more giving than her," etc.?

Is "giving" in the "generous" sense (cf. "give of oneself") listed in
any dictionary at all, even under GIVE? Again, my library is rather
small and the nearest university is a couple of hours' drive from here.

Thanks in anticipation.


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