I Come Bearing Gifts Meaning

I Come Bearing Gifts Meaning: Origin & Definition

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

The practice of giving or exchanging presents for events like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, and weddings is widespread. You might have encountered the expression, “I come bearing gifts,” at some time.

But does it have a deeper meaning to it? Let’s find out.

What Does “I Come Bearing Gifts” Mean?

What Do You Mean by I Come Bearing Gifts 

The English word “bearing” is classified as homophone pair with the word “barring,” which sounds the same but has different meanings. Bearing is a gerund form of the verb to bear, meaning to carry or hold. 

Try to imagine someone carrying neatly-wrapped presents in their arms. The expression, “I come bearing gifts,” means you’ve arrived in possession of something you know the other person wants.

It is also said to be associated with the Greek phrase “Timeo Danaos et Dona ferentes” which came from a Latin phrase from Aeneid, a Latin epic poem written by Virgil.

When paraphrased in English, it means “I fear the Greeks even when bearing gifts.”

But what do you say when giving a gift?

Possible Origin

Possible Origin

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

This “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” phrase came from Laocoön, a Trojan priest, referring to the Trojan Horse used by the Greeks during the Trojan War. This phrase has been paraphrased in English to become a commonly used proverb. 

It came from the literal meaning, “I fear the Danaans [Greeks], even those bearing gifts” or “even when they bear gifts.” But in the modern era, it is translated and used as “I come bearing gifts.”

Learn what to do when someone asks for a gift back here.

Kings Bearing Gifts for Baby Jesus

Kings Bearing Gifts for Baby Jesus

According to the story of Christmas in the Christian Bible, three wise men came from the East, bearing gifts of gold representing superiority, frankincense as a symbol of deity, and myrrh, an anointing oil, presented to Baby Jesus. 

The primary importance and significance of the gifts the three wise men gave lay in their great value that it was indeed a gift fit for a king. [1

This origin or story in the Bible differs from Greek mythology. The gifts used here tell us something about Jesus’ identity and not about a warning to fear.

Contrary to Greek stories, this origin depicts hope and courage because, to them, a new king named Jesus Christ is born.

Is the Phrase I Come Bearing Gifts a Warning? 

It could be. The phrase “I come bearing gifts” could be a warning if you reference it to the story of the Trojan War in Greek mythology. While the Trojans had fallen into a drunken slumber, the Greeks emerged from the horse and conquered them. 

The saying is now used regularly as a warning when a supposed gift or act of virtue is thought to hold a hidden danger or motive of someone giving a gift. 

Also, the gift could justify trusting an enemy when they appear to be making an enticing gift to get near you. It can also refer to an act of charity that masks a hidden destructive agenda. [2] But how do you send a gift anonymously?


Is “I Come Bearing Gifts” linked to the Trojan Horse in Greek Mythology? 

Yes, the phrase “I come bearing gifts” is linked to the Trojan Horse in Greek Mythology. According to research, the Greeks could not defeat the Trojans, so they had to create a cunning strategy by building the hollow Trojan horse and putting Greek soldiers inside. 

Believing the war was over, the Trojans saw the horse as an offering to the gods and a peace offering, so they wheeled it into the city. However, Greek soldiers were waiting to attack inside. 

What does the phrase “I come bearing gifts” mean in layman’s terms? 

In layman’s terms, it is similar to “He is bearing gifts.” However, “Take some bearing gifts” is incorrect English, and “bring some bearing gifts “means either a compass or hollow discs to help your wheel spin.

Bearing in English dictionary means to carry, support or move something or someone. 

In line with that, it can pertain to “He is carrying gifts” or “He brought you gifts” if rephrased.

Final Thoughts

“I come bearing gifts” is a phrase that reminds people not to trust others blindly. If someone who was once a rival or enemy suddenly starts to act generous, that person may have a sneaky motive, just like the Greeks when they offered the so-called Trojan Horse. 

Meanwhile, the plain meaning of bringing or giving gifts with no bad intentions and another motive overrules the original sense of it. It is now associated with mistrust and betrayal.


Kimberlee Johnson
Follow me

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *