Three Ways to Say Gifted

Gifted. Easy to type. Difficult to say.

Have you experienced that uncertainty and discomfort when you knew you had to say the word gifted, but you were a bit fearful how it would be received? And you worried what the reaction from the listener would be? Were you also uncomfortable even when having to explain to an educator or physician, people who should know about and understand gifted children?

You can be sure, many of us struggle with that—how to say gifted.

It is just one of those discombobulated moments that you wish could just go away or at least would pass very quickly. You know, like the wake me up when it’s over kind of quickly. But if you have gifted children, you know it will be necessary, on more than one occasion, to have to audibly utter the term gifted in the future. And when you must verbalize it, how do you manage to get through that awkward moment? How do you say gifted?

Everyone has their style or trick to make this inevitable ill-at-ease situation more tolerable or less thorny to get through. Or they just painfully muddle through when having to vocalize the word gifted.

Here are three common ways people use to manage to articulate that contentious word. Not that these three ways are tips or advice or even a magic bullet, but at least you will see which style you fall into, or maybe want to try out for the next time you need to say gifted.


THE FEARFUL FOG — This approach involves getting all worked up the night before you must utter the G-word. You fix yourself a hot tea with chamomile to try to reduce the anxiety, praying you will be able to sleep that night because, dang it, you will need a good night’s rest to tackle that fearful task the next day. You crawl into bed, lay your head on your pillow and wait. And Mr. Sandman then passes you by. Instead, the thought of tomorrow’s conversation keeps you awake. Over and over you play out in your sleepless mind how you will explain that your child is gifted. You wake up dazed and tired. You drag yourself to the meeting and you try to muddle through as best you can. You are talking and you know the time has come to say that word and your face gets hot, your mind freezes up and you feel like you are in a fog. And BOOM, you say it. It’s over. It wasn’t that bad after all.

THE BEAT AROUND THE BUSH Knowing that the word gifted itself is the problem which sends bolts of electricity to rouse the rankles of the listener, you devise a clever way to explain giftedness without saying the word gifted. Brilliant. Good plan. Replacement words like neurodiverse, highly intelligent, academically advanced, intellectually advanced or high-achieving are used to explain the gifted piece and yet not have to say that questionable word. Armed with your list of replacement words, you get your point across and still have a few substitute words to spare for next time. SHAZAM. Got it done.

THE “I DON’T GIVE A DAMN”Gifted, gifted, gifted! There, you said it, three times even. You are such the brave one. Your philosophy is to call a spade a spade and not give a damn what the other person thinks. You just tell it like it is and if the other person doesn’t like it or rolls their eyes, it is their problem because they are just so wrong.  “My child is gifted and I don’t give a damn what you think. She was born this way, she is intelligent and I didn’t hothouse her, so I don’t really concern myself with what you think.” Gifted, gifted, gifted!  BAM You got that right!


Which group do you fall into? Do you have a unique way to say gifted? Tell us how you say gifted. Share your clever solution to this awkward situation—leave your story in the comments below.


Gifted, gifted, gifted! 

There, I said it again.


And there are many more people who know how to say gifted, tooThis month’s Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop is “How Do You Say Gifted?” and who better to know how to say gifted than all the bloggers from GHF!  Click on the link below to find out how others dare to say gifted.

GHF How Do You Say Gifted

53 Comments on “Three Ways to Say Gifted

  1. Pingback: Drie manieren om het woord 'hoogbegaafd' uit te spreken - Hoogbloeier

  2. i have always referred to my daughter and my grandson as bright. (A very understated adjective.). I explain just how bright to those who need to know or those who express an interest. These are usually very enjoyable conversations. I do remember an exception when my daughter was young. In a fit of exacerbation during a discussion with an educator, I modified a line from “Searching for Bobby Fisher” – she is better at this than you will be at anything I your life. Not my finest hour, but I must admit it made me feel better at the time.

    • Charlie, I think we all get to that level of frustration from time to time, and many of us have had one of those “finest hours”. Yours is funny, too–I can only imagine the look on the teacher’s face! Thanks for sharing that wonderful little story!

    • Dad – you and mom have always been my staunchest defenders and strongest advocates! I hope Rob and I do half as well for our kids as you did for me 🙂

      Don’t think I have heard that story before, but I bet I can guess which teacher it was.

  3. Oh… I suppose, most of the time, I beat around the bush. My fave word is ASYCHRONOUS and ACCELERATED! But sometimes I just don’t give a damn! LOL. Thanks for the post and the courage it gives me to use the word GIFTED!

    • It was a timely post for me as we have a meeting in a couple of days and I have yet to decide which category I’m going to subscribe to! Thanks for your code words–may I borrow them? 🙂

  4. Sometimes I beat around the bush, and sometimes I say the taboo word proudly, multiple times in a row. What I do depends upon my listeners, my purpose, and my mood. Thanks for writing!

  5. I went from the first to the last…pretty quuckly. But I also played with telling some people that my son had ADS (Asynchronous Development Syndrome). That was fun.

  6. Celi, Wonderfully written and so true! “Have you experienced that uncertainty and discomfort when you knew you had to say the word gifted, but you were a bit fearful how it would be received?” Yes, yes, unfortunately yes. Thanks for the great post.

  7. I usually say my son is “advanced,” or “twice-exceptional” if his difficulties apply to the situation. I just can’t stand the wall that goes up when the “g-word” is used, and for me it’s really all just semantics anyway.

    If only whoever coined the term “gifted” had just MADE UP A WORD. Brand-new word, maybe based on something obscure. “Obscute,” even. I mean, I know eventually it would have begun to have the same sort of eye-roll so-you-think-your-kid-is-so-smart effect, but at least the original meaning of the word wouldn’t have been a source of friction!! I mean, people aren’t wrong, everyone has gifts to give to the world, and everyone IS a gift, but we’re forced to tell people that THEIR children still aren’t TECHNICALLY “gifted,” which just wouldn’t even be an issue if our kids were ‘obscute,’ you know?? Sigh.

    • Yep, I get that. The word gifted is like a double-whammy–gifted=gift=special and add on the smarter thing. Something more medical- or psychological-like would be nice. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Carole!

  8. My son is 2E. The school recognizes the disabilities but not the giftedness. A newly graduated teacher is giving spelling words like “yes,” “yet,” and “dry.” But what gets me is the experienced teacher saying “I’m not seeing any of this ‘exceptional’ business.” Gifted doesn’t always mean high achieving but it isn’t getting through despite my and the district main office trying to educate the campus. I’m going to get even more IDGAD with them.

    • Oh, I have been there–educators believing gifted equals high-achieving. I always mention that Albert Einstein did not excel in school, and his school performance was so poor, his teacher told his parents he was a dullard. Some believed he was incapable of learning. Drop that tidbit on them, Cynthia 😉 Good luck and thank you for sharing a bit of your story with us!

  9. Last week we confirmed my 2 year old is gifted like his 5 year old brother. We decided last week that we are sending my oldest to a school with “Academy of Gifted Instruction” in the name. So there will be less avoiding the word “gifted”. I defiantly call up friends with gifted kiddos to openly chat and I feel out who I can mention it to and where to avoid it. We have 6 good friends with gifted kids all starting KG, so I have a support group (we were all friends before any of the kids were tested). Then I have about 3 families we play with that are not gifted so we just talk about other things. My mom says to never mention the word but I am more free about it. If the other person seems uncomfortable when I say gifted I just change the subject. If people understood the challenges of giving thurough explanations to every step of the day and being constantly out talked by your children they would know that it is a struggle keeping up with these kiddos!

    • Haley, you lucky girl you, to have such a great support group. I completely understand why your mom would say that, but isn’t it such a shame we should feel that way? Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Dang, Haley. Where do you live that there’s an “Academy of Gifted Instruction” and can the rest of us move there? We could all bunk with you, right? 🙂

  10. I like saying that my daughter has “asynchronous development.” This is both helpful, in that it is the most accurate way to describe her…(she is over the 99th percentile in a couple of categories, and dead average in others)…AND difficult, in that it requires my stopping to explain what asynchronous means. But I DO wish we could drop the word “gifted” altogether. Even though it has a very specific meaning in the world of psychology and academics, to the rest of the world it is completely vague…like the word “special.”

    • You know, Susanne, from reading all the posts on how to say gifted, it is clear that we all change it up depending on our child, who we are talking to and the reason for the conversation. Like you said, it is difficult. Whether you have to explain asynchronous development or gifted, it is difficult. As if raising them wasn’t difficult enough already!

  11. <3 the graphic and the light-hearted approach. Also, am I the only one on this hop who keeps thinking of that line from one of The Godfather movies about how one says "banana daiquiri" in Spanish? (Yes, my brain is a strange, strange place.)

  12. I usually don’t say anything amongst friends or others. But between my husband and I, I call mine an intellectual badass.

  13. I’ve spent some time in the first group and a loooong time in the second. It’s been a long process but I’m finally in the third group. To those uninitiated I generally say she thinks differently and has been identified as gifted. Conversation usually dies down pretty quickly.

    • “Conversation usually dies down pretty quickly.” <---Yes, that is so true, like an awkward silence that makes you wish you could just run away! Thanks for sharing how you say "gifted"! P.S. I just love your term, "uninitiated"!

  14. I’m in the second category…”accelerated in some areas”, “quick learners”, “very focused”, “a bit on the sensitive side”. The sensitive one makes me inwardly laugh a little, because that really means “could have a meltdown any moment if you don’t choose your words carefully”. 🙂 We have recently met a few families that use some of these same words – perhaps I’ll throw “gifted” out there one of these times and see what happens. They could be in the same uncomfortable boat we are. Loved your post, Celi.

    • Thanks, Nicole! “perhaps I’ll throw “gifted” out there one of these times and see what happens” <--let us know how that goes! Love it!

  15. How do I say “gifted”? I don’t. :-\

    I guess you could put me in the category of “uses replacement words”. I need to stop. I wrote a piece about this topic over a year ago and I’m still at the same place I was then.

  16. I risk beating around the bush talking about neurodiversity. So: Not everybody is gifted. Not everybody is Autistic. Still, I enjoy going for observations and mechanisms: “How does your mind work?” It is at the level of details where people will figure out their relevant needs, and prioritize strategies to meet those needs.

  17. LOL! I love number three. I am very visual, so my brain created mini movie using your dialogue and it made laugh.

    While I am in the early stages with my son (testing), I can relate to the blank stares you mention in your reply above. It all makes sense now. Heck, I had never heard of hothousing until two weeks ago (I had to look it up) and I bet some people think that is what I have been doing all this time. Yet, I have just been following son’s lead.

    Hmm…I am in the second category, since I do not have testing results to back me up, per se.

    • Well, you will just have to let us know which category you fall into after your first awkward moment of having to say “gifted”, lol. 😉

      Thanks, Julie!

  18. I’m totally in the – “I don’t give a damn” group. It’s not that I don’t care about other people’s feelings, rather I try to take life as it comes and be honest about what’s happening. I think sometimes the desire to not disturb others keeps us all in our own spaces and leads to isolation. None of us are in this alone, but it certainly feels that way when we don’t get real and share what’s happening in our lives.

    • I agree, Maggie, we should be real and truthful, and being open about giftedness is the only way to bring about the necessary changes and understandings our gifted kids need. But darn, those long, blank stares make me back down every time! 🙂

      Thanks, Maggie!

      • I realized years ago that I didn’t have a problem talking about my son’s migraines. Why should I shy away from talking about other realities in our lives? Anxiety. Adoption. ADHD. Giftedness. Those are all just a part of life for us.

        I get those blank stares, too. I figure I have just a second or two to decide if the person wants to know more or wants to move on from the conversation. I’m sure I don’t always get it right!

  19. “What work is he doing? Oh, he’s mostly just following along with his brother this year.” (Big brother is 3 grades ahead of little brother.)

    “We’re calling him a Kindergartener for Sunday School.” (When he’s reading at a 5th grade level.)

    He’s an “early learner.”

    So I’m probably in the replacement words group where my replacement words completely down play his abilities because I don’t want the moms of his friends of avoid us. 😛

    • Yup, I’ve done the same. Sadly, it does downplay his intelligence and we shouldn’t have to downplay to just to please others. It is difficult, isn’t it?

      Thanks, Anya!

    • We had a very different experience at church for Patrick. When Patrick was 4, the choir director asked if he would join the elementary school choir – he knew that Patrick was reading well enough and would enjoy the challenge of working in a choir. It was really a nice way to bring him into the fold based on his abilities, not his age.

    • Speaking from a teacher’s perspective — a teacher whose graduate school minor was Gifted and Talented Education — here are my arguments in favor of avoiding the “G” word:
      1) Parents who say it the most seem to be trying to convince themselves.
      2) Parents who say it a lot are pretty obnoxious.
      3) Parents who say it a lot sometimes seem to think it means that they are gifted, too.
      4) Parents who say it a lot often seem to forget that there are so many other reasons why their kid is awesome.
      5) When kids are truly gifted, it’s pretty obvious.

      • Used to be #1, now #3. So tired of having to adjust for others over-sensitivities. The kids are what the kids are, some have blue eyes, some brown, some are good at sports. Some of it is frustration where CA gives $9,600 for each kid, $26,000 per kid for gifted ed, and $0 for gifted programs. We need to speak up for an appropriate share of resources for these kids. I try to use decorum. I do not bring it up or say it, just to say it, but when it comes up, I’m done hiding it. Much of my change is a reaction to the challenges of getting an appropriate education in public ed. I’m softer in my presentation than I used to be, but have more facts and data then when the journey began. I am more direct now. Saves time, some teachers won’t get it anyway. Some are fabulous and I love them for it. Sorry if it makes others uncomfortable, not trying to, but it is what it is. Did you know that the federal Jacob Javitz Act (only federal funding for gifted) is only $10-$12 million for the entire United States? Ridiculous.

        • Yes, the funding, rather the zero-funding is inexcusable. I’d like to compare what we spend as a nation testing versus what we spend on gifted ed. and other special needs programs. And let’s throw in the amount of money school systems spend on sports and sporting facilities for comparison. It all makes me sad, very sad.

          Here’s the deal to me: the U. S. strives to bring up our country’s educational test scores, and then they turn around and just neglect our gifted children. You want to win the race, but you leave your fastest car in disrepair.

          Hey, thanks for getting me up on my soapbox 😉 No, really, I appreciate you leaving your thoughts and I love your attitude–“I’m done hiding it.” Good for you!

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