Undeniably, graciousness differs from money! Graciousness is a behaviour and quality, whilst money is a physical a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value.

gratuity (n.)

1520s, "graciousness," from French gratuité (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin gratuitatem (nominative gratuitas) "free gift," probably from Latin gratuitus "done without pay, spontaneous, voluntary," from gratus "pleasing, agreeable," from gratia "favor" (from suffixed form of PIE root *gwere- (2) "to favor"). Meaning "money given for favor or services" is first attested 1530s.


2 Answers 2


Though it seems to have come to mean the opposite of its original sense, it is not exactly true, and somehow logical:

I think the key here is the word additionnal in your title.

The person is already paid for doing his/her job. You don't need to give a tip/gratuity to the person to get the service (though tips are sometimes required in the U.S. but the sum is still up to you, so an extra amount is out of your graciousness!).

So what you're giving is a sort of gift, something without receiving a service or good in return (disinterested) as in the original latin meaning :

gratuitus : gratuit, désintéressé


Un 'don' est toujours donné gratuitement. The meaning of a donation is meant to be "free" for the receiver. So when someone gives someone else that "donation" for their services, it's is freely given and received. Gratuité in French is used for more than just money, it is also used to describe something like the education given by a teacher for example. The product delivered is not without value, but is liberated from cost.

  • 2
    Bienvenue sur French Stack Exchange. Un don ou la gratuité, comment ça glisse au sens de pourboire ? Je crois que c'est la question mais c'est difficile à dire. There are many other questions I encourage you to explore.
    – livresque
    May 27, 2021 at 0:44

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