In which I wonder about dedications

“for ________.”  What does that mean?  Not to be callous or myopic.  But I wonder about the word choice—“for”—and the implications of such an often-used format.

Perhaps I am over-thinking this.  I realize this gesture is probably a way to acknowledge that person’s/people’s patience as the writer worked on the manuscript and during the work that comes after a manuscript.  Or to acknowledge loved ones in general (perhaps even deceased ones).  I realize this is an important gesture, and I am not questioning the instincts of that gesture.

But “for”?  Is the writer trying to name his/her “Muse”?  (If so, surely there were other influences as well, but this is the only one that is sentient?  Or is the primary of the sentient ones?)

Is this manuscript a gift for that person?

This “for” feels limiting: is not this manuscript “for” more than the named person?

Why attempt to name a “for”?

Is a “for” an attempt for the writer to seem selfless?  A place to be (somewhat) explicit?

Why “for”?  Why not “with thanks to”?  Does that sound not warm enough—not dedicated enough?

Is “for” some sort of vestigial characteristic from the days of poets having patrons?

Please tell me.  I want to know.  If you have written “for ________,” why was this the right way to go about it for you?