Don’t Let Functional Variation Torch Your Thanksgiving Turkey


5.31 It is fairly common in English for nouns to pass into use as verbs; it always has been.

The Chicago Manual of Style

Maybe, but it’s also fairly annoying. This occurs to me as the holidays loom and I resolve that if anyone “gifts” me anything next month I’m going to spit eggnog in their face.

In fairness, it’s subjective which noun-to-verb functional variations work and which don’t. Yes, I Google and friend like any red-blooded American who wastes too much time online, and I don’t think twice about handing you the rake so you can rake the toilet paper those little punks rolled our house with.

A good article in More Intelligent Life presents this fun factoid:

“Some lovers of the language deplore the whole business of verbing (Benjamin Franklin called it “awkward and abominable” in a letter to Noah Webster, the lexicographer, in 1789). . .”

If he wasn’t a fan of this sort of manipulation, I wonder how the elder statesman would have reacted to Philadelphia’s “Benergy” fiasco. I digress…

What do you think separates a good noun-verb functional variation from a ridiculous one?

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