To mar


The game was marred by the behavior of some rowdy fans shouting and letting off fireworks in the stands.


Being on the flightpath to the international airport is the only factor that mars the peace and quiet of this neighbourhood.

 When you don’t want to use the verb spoil, which itself has multiple meanings, the word mar is an effective synonym and is shorter than the somewhat ambiguous impair.  To mar doesn’t seem to be that commonly used and may be more often found in written English.

The verb is a regular verb, so the past form is marred and it derives from Old English and Saxon verbs merran and merrian which meant to hinder or to waste.

Given that el mar is the sea in Spanish and il mare in Italian, perhaps some foreign speakers of English will find it a strange choice, since it has nothing to do with marine or maritime.



As an adjective this word is quite commonly used to describe someone with a special talent or ability.

gifted player

Nancy is a gifted tennis player.

“We are young, gifted and black” sang Nina Simone in the sixties.

So far so good.  But what about its use as a verb?

I was gifted this watch as a recognition of my years of service to the local bowling club.

He gifted his wife a monthly pass to the local spa.


Researching on internet, the main dictionaries seem to acknowledge the existence of this use of the word but are reluctant to fully validate it yet.  Nevertheless, it appears to be used more and more frequently as a synonym for ‘to give’. There are many who criticise this usage but as one site said, there is a point to using ‘gifted’ if you want to emphasize the intention of giving the item as a present, rather than simply giving.

This looks like splitting hairs to me and while it is true that give is a perfectly good word, I suspect that using ‘to gift’ conveys a slightly grander intention and this is influential in its increased use.