Monday, March 23, 2015


    Verbing – the act of using a noun as a verb in everyday speech.

            No, that wasn’t from Webster’s or Oxford’s dictionary. This is an observation of mine of late, especially in my household of teenagers.
            It’s not a new phenomenon, but it seems very popular lately. You may not even recognize it as odd anymore, or may be doing it yourself. Have you googled, lately?
            The first time I noticed the grammar abuse, I was driving a carful of sixth graders to a volleyball game a couple of years ago. From the driver’s seat I overhead this exchange:
            “Who are we versing today?”
            “I think we’re versing St. John’s.”
            I whipped my head around to face my daughter in the backseat.
            “Please tell me you didn’t just say versing.”
            “You’re playing St. John’s, not versing them.”
            “But it’s us versus St. John’s, so we’re versing them.”
            Ah, twelve year old logic. I waited until we were home from playing  St. John’s and explained that you can’t just take a noun and  use in verb form.
            “Why not?”
            “It’s just not right.”
            “But everybody does it.”
            This time the twelve year old logic had a valid case. Everyone was doing it. Does that make it acceptable? Webster’s and Oxford will add a word simply because it becomes part of our vernacular and since verbing seems to be trending I wonder if it will become accepted as well

            Personally, I believe it’s similar to the use of slang. When new words pop up, used only by certain demographics at first, they usually become generally accepted. I haven’t noticed too many new slang terms from my high school age daughter or her middle school sisters. They still use, 'awesome' and 'cool,' though they do use text-speak abbreviations. So possibly this trend of verbing is the new slang and as such I plan to use it in the same way I would use slang in my writing, sparingly and only in age-appropriate situations. I might have the child of a character use a term or incorporate one that has been generally accepted over the last decade, such as googling.
  Unless my characters are hipsters, I will not be using brunching, gaming, tindering, or juicing.

            I’d love to hear your thoughts on incorporating this trend into your own writing or just share some of your favorite or least favorite of these new terms.
Back to novelling.


  1. The noun-verb that I keep seeing, and it is starting to make me feel crazy is "gifting." Are you giving someone a present? Or gifting it? Or what?
    I think it started with re-gifting, but whatever it is, that still makes me cringe. (though I do google)

    1. Yes! Gifting is certainly becoming widely used. Great example or a cringe-worthy noun-verb.

  2. We are twisting the use of language to "fit" our needs--to be creative? Great post to ponder today, Ally. :)

  3. Thanks, Mary! I agree we are twisiting it, since here we are 'blogging'.

  4. This is a really interesting article. Now that you've made me aware, I'm going to watch for "verbing" in everyday speech. Fascinating!

  5. I'll admit I've not heard 'versing' before. One I still can't get over even though it's been accepted for awhile is using nouns as verbs, such as Impact. Saying "The weather impacts our decision to travel." No, it has an impact on.

  6. Grammar abuse seems to be everywhere :)

  7. Actually, it doesn't bother me. I think that's the reason English has become the "global language". We're always making up things and borrowing words in order to better express ourselves.

  8. Nicely put and a positive way of looking at it. Thanks, Mary!