Ask Difference

Bribe vs. Gift — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 8, 2024
A bribe is given with the intent to influence someone's actions unfairly, whereas a gift is a voluntary offering without expecting anything in return.
Bribe vs. Gift — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Bribe and Gift

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Key Differences

A bribe involves an exchange meant to alter someone's behavior or decisions for personal gain, often in unethical or illegal ways. On the other hand, a gift is typically presented to show appreciation, love, or to celebrate a special occasion, without the expectation of a quid pro quo.
Bribes are characterized by their purpose of obtaining favorable outcomes through unethical means, such as influencing a public official's decision. Whereas gifts are given freely to express kindness or appreciation, without any implicit expectation of receiving something in return.
The context in which a bribe or a gift is given significantly affects its interpretation. A bribe is often secretive and intended for personal or business advantage, while a gift is usually given openly and with the intent of strengthening relationships.
Legal repercussions can arise from giving or receiving bribes, as they are considered corrupt practices in many jurisdictions. Gifts, however, are generally lawful, provided they are not intended to disguise a bribe.
Cultural norms play a crucial role in distinguishing between bribes and gifts. In some cultures, what might be considered a bribe in one context could be seen as an acceptable gift in another, emphasizing the importance of understanding cultural differences in these practices.
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Comparison Chart

Purpose

To influence decisions or actions for gain
To show appreciation or love without return

Expectation of Return

Yes, a specific outcome or behavior
No, given freely

Legality

Often illegal
Legal, unless intended as a bribe

Context

Secretive, for personal or business advantage
Open, to strengthen relationships

Cultural Interpretation

May vary, often seen negatively
Generally positive, varies by culture

Compare with Definitions

Bribe

Money given to alter a decision unfairly.
A bribe was given to avoid traffic fines.

Gift

An item given to show appreciation or love.
Flowers were sent as a gift of gratitude.

Bribe

A secret payment for a favor or advantage.
She accepted a bribe to leak confidential information.

Gift

Something bestowed without compensation.
The award was a gift to recognize her contributions.

Bribe

An attempt to influence by offering money improperly.
Offering a bribe for preferential treatment is illegal.

Gift

A voluntary offering without expectation of return.
He received a gift on his birthday.

Bribe

An illicit payment to influence someone's actions.
The businessman offered a bribe to expedite his permit approval.

Gift

A present offered to celebrate an occasion.
They exchanged gifts during the holiday season.

Bribe

Financial inducement for unethical advantages.
Bribes were used to secure lucrative contracts.

Gift

An act of giving freely to strengthen a bond.
The gift was a symbol of their friendship.

Bribe

Dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one's favour by a gift of money or other inducement
They had bribed an official to sell them a certificate
They attempted to bribe opponents into losing

Gift

A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given.

Bribe

A sum of money or other inducement offered or given to bribe someone
Lawmakers were caught accepting bribes to bring in legalized gambling

Gift

Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation
I received several gifts for my birthday. Your gift of $100 is greatly appreciated.

Bribe

Money or some other benefit given to a person in power, especially a public official, in an effort to cause the person to take a particular action.

Gift

The act of giving
The painting came into their possession by gift.

Bribe

Something offered to induce another to do something
Tried to use dessert as a bribe to get the child to cooperate.

Gift

A talent, endowment, aptitude, or inclination
She has a gift for playing the piano.

Bribe

To give, offer, or promise a bribe to.

Gift

To present something as a gift to
Gifted his niece with a watch.

Bribe

To give, offer, or promise bribes.

Gift

To give as a gift
"King Charles II ... had gifted the land of Carolina to certain members of his court" (Marilyn Yalom).

Bribe

Something (usually money) given in exchange for influence or as an inducement to breaking the law.

Gift

To endow with
Nature has gifted her with a fine voice.

Bribe

That which seduces; seduction; allurement.

Gift

Something given to another voluntarily, without charge.

Bribe

(transitive) To give a bribe to; specifically, to ask a person to do something against his/her original will, in exchange for some type of reward or relief from potential trouble.

Gift

A talent or natural ability.
She had a gift for playing the flute.

Bribe

(transitive) To gain by a bribe; to induce as by a bribe.
To bribe somebody's compliance

Gift

Something gained incidentally, without effort.

Bribe

A gift begged; a present.

Gift

The act, right, or power of giving or bestowing.
The office is in the gift of the President.

Bribe

A price, reward, gift, or favor bestowed or promised with a view to prevent the judgment or corrupt the conduct of a judge, witness, voter, or other person in a position of trust.
Undue reward for anything against justice is a bribe.

Gift

(transitive) To give as a gift or donation.

Bribe

That which seduces; seduction; allurement.
Not the bribes of sordid wealth can seduce to leave these ever blooming sweets.

Gift

(transitive) To give away, to concede easily.

Bribe

To rob or steal.

Gift

Anything given; anything voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation; a present; an offering.
Shall I receive by gift, what of my own, . . .I can command ?

Bribe

To give or promise a reward or consideration to (a judge, juror, legislator, voter, or other person in a position of trust) with a view to prevent the judgment or corrupt the conduct; to induce or influence by a bribe; to give a bribe to.
Neither is he worthy who bribes a man to vote against his conscience.

Gift

The act, right, or power of giving or bestowing; as, the office is in the gift of the President.

Bribe

To gain by a bribe; of induce as by a bribe.

Gift

A bribe; anything given to corrupt.
Neither take a gift, for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise.

Bribe

To commit robbery or theft.

Gift

Some exceptional inborn quality or characteristic; a striking or special talent or aptitude; power; faculty; as, the gift of wit; a gift for speaking.

Bribe

To give a bribe to a person; to pervert the judgment or corrupt the action of a person in a position of trust, by some gift or promise.
An attempt to bribe, though unsuccessful, has been holden to be criminal, and the offender may be indicted.
The bard may supplicate, but cannot bribe.

Gift

A voluntary transfer of real or personal property, without any consideration. It can be perfected only by deed, or in case of personal property, by an actual delivery of possession.

Bribe

Payment made to a person in a position of trust to corrupt his judgment

Gift

To endow with some power or faculty. See gift{4}.
He was gifted . . . with philosophical sagacity.

Bribe

Make illegal payments to in exchange for favors or influence;
This judge can be bought

Gift

Something acquired without compensation

Gift

Natural qualities or talents

Gift

The act of giving

Gift

Give qualities or abilities to

Gift

Give as a present; make a gift of;
What will you give her for her birthday?

Common Curiosities

Are all bribes illegal?

Most jurisdictions consider bribes to be illegal, especially when they involve public officials or are meant to secure unfair advantages.

How is a gift different from a bribe?

Unlike a bribe, a gift is given freely out of kindness or to show appreciation, without expecting anything in return.

Can a gift ever be considered a bribe?

Yes, if a gift is given with the intention of influencing someone’s decision or behavior, it can be considered a bribe.

How does culture influence the perception of bribes and gifts?

Cultural norms significantly influence what is considered a bribe or a gift, with practices varying widely across different societies.

What are the consequences of giving or receiving a bribe?

Legal consequences can include fines, imprisonment, and damage to one’s reputation.

What defines a bribe?

A bribe is an illicit payment intended to influence someone's actions or decisions for personal or business gain.

Why do people give gifts?

People give gifts to express affection, gratitude, or to celebrate special occasions, without expecting anything in return.

What role do ethics play in distinguishing a gift from a bribe?

Ethics emphasize the intention behind the action, where gifts are given without self-serving motives, unlike bribes.

What legal safeguards exist against bribery?

Laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the U.S. prohibit bribing foreign officials and enforce transparency in business transactions.

Can the value of a gift influence its perception as a bribe?

Yes, the value and timing of a gift can affect whether it is perceived as a bribe, especially in a business or political context.

Can a gift be given with expectations?

While gifts are generally not given with explicit expectations of return, they can sometimes carry implicit hopes of reciprocity.

Why is the distinction between a bribe and a gift important?

Understanding this distinction is crucial to navigating legal and ethical standards in personal and professional interactions.

How do companies differentiate between gifts and bribes?

Companies often have strict policies and limits on the value of gifts to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure they are not perceived as bribes.

Is it always clear when a payment is a bribe or a gift?

The distinction can sometimes be blurry, especially in business contexts where cultural norms about gift-giving vary.

How should one respond if offered a bribe?

It's advisable to refuse the bribe and report the offer to the appropriate authorities or a supervisor.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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