Does "Verbing" Annoy You?

As Sarah Palin attested recently, never misunderestimate that English is a living language. So, when someone transformationed nouns into verbs, all you refudiators better just got to celebrate it!

What do these words and phrases have in common? Friend, Google, TiVo, log in, contact, barbecue, unlike, concept, text, Photoshop, leverage, party, Xerox, reference, architect, parent, improv, transition, diligence, host, chair, gift, heart, impact?

They’ve all been declared--by someone, somewhere, whether a usage expert or just a self-appointed language cop--”not verbs.” It doesn’t matter whether they’re useful, interesting, or entertaining as verbs; to many people, if a word began its life as a noun, then ”verbing” it (like I did there) is just wrong.

Erin McKean articled this interesting observation (and protest) about verbing: Link

Oh, and if you're not up to the whole #Shakespalin thing, here's a primer at HuffPo.


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My issue here is when new words are coined that don't actually serve a purpose. Let's take my favorite portmanteau and my most hated as an example. Guesstimate and ginormous.

I HATE the word "guesstimate". I have never seen a word make educated people look stupid quicker. My reasoning here is that there is a limit to how much you can guess. You either know a base concept or you don't. If you "partially understand" the concept then you're pulling too many things into the concept. I'm referring to elementary concepts here. So, when guessing, you are effectively admitting to lacking appropriate understanding and simply trying to answer anyway. It is the same with estimating. There is a limit to how much one can guess or estimate. So there is nothing to be gained from the word "guesstimate" as it doesn't put any extra emphasis on the idea. It's simply another synonym that makes it all that much more confusing.

Ginormous, on the other hand, is different in terms of limits. There doesn't seem to be a limit to how large things can get. So if we take "gigantic" and "enormous" and combine them, it must be assumed that the object is far larger than gigantic or enormous would normally describe. This is possible because there's no known (reasonable) limit for the size of objects.

So, what about verbing? I think verbing is acceptable when there simply isn't a word to convey the subtle meaning one is attempting to carry out. But when a word is verbed because nerdism gets in the way, it's intolerable. Language may be free and fluid but it should ALSO be efficient.

I also hate that "verbed" is a verbism (new word referring to words that were verbed).
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Erin McKean, the author of the article, gave a wonderful talk at www.ted.com a few years ago. As a lexicographer, she knows her stuff.
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