Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Dec 24, 2023
This week’s theme
Verbing the noun

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
No el

Like what you see here?
Send a gift subscription

Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1121

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: “A horribly fun party card game.” The wicked smartest gift for know-it-alls and teenagers. Wise Up!

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: verbing the noun

What are your favorite examples of using a word in a novel part of speech? Our readers shared examples from work, home, and beyond. Read on for a selection.

A young guy came to give us a quote for mowing our lawn. He asked if we wanted him to use the catcher or leave the clippings on the lawn: “Do you want it catched?” It jarred, but when I mentally substituted “caught”, I decided he was right.
-Ri Weal, Palmerston North, New Zealand (kiwipoetri gmail.com)

I’m French, and of course French borrows words from English. Sometimes, there’s no good reason for it -- using “meeting” instead of “réunion”, for example, is just French bizspeak. But sometimes, the borrowed word does fill a gap. For instance, “downloader” and “uploader” (as verbs, with the final “er” pronounced “ay”) are useful because the French word “télécharger” can mean either.
-Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)

My hobby is crocheting afghans, something I spend a lot of time doing. Last week my niece accidentally used afghan as a verb in a message she sent me. In my reply, I wrote, “I’m afghaning this evening,” which amused her. I doubt it’ll catch on, but it will be useful for my niece and me.
-Kathi Kitao, Kyoto, Japan (kkitao217 yahoo.com)

When someone writes utter gibberish on social media, I’ll sometimes reply “Dude, can you even English?”
-David Denis, Tampa, Florida (dadenis gte.net)

Today’s front page of LA Times: “How can we stop ‘dooring’ cyclists? Car doors opening abruptly in riders’ paths can cause injuries or even death.”
-Sherilyn Schwartz, Crescent Mills, California (tsschwartz yahoo.com)

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by LACRAWESOME -- Explore our “Wit You Can Wear” collection >

Alexander Haig, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, was notorious for turning nouns into verbs. During his confirmation hearing, he repeatedly told senators, “I’ll have to caveat that.”
-Steven G. Kellman, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Texas, San Antonio, Texas (kellman1 gmail.com)

My nephew recently deadpanned to me, “I sunk-cost-fallacied my entire way through both volumes of Don Quixote.”
-Bryan Todd, Lincoln, Nebraska (boyanlj gmail.com)

We were all IMPACTED by the somewhat OFFPUTTING decision to GREENLIGHT the project.
-Jennifer Arthur, San Francisco, California (jennifer arthurassociates.net)

In one contract as an IT project manager I was tasked with creating a business plan that was quite detailed and actually filled a three-ring binder. I called the process “binderize and deliver.” I don’t think the word ever caught on.
-Janene Luders, Bailey, Colorado (jaluders msn.com)

I was told at a Denny’s restaurant, “It will be just a minute. The waitress is beveraging another table.”
-Susan Frank, Titusville, Florida (sfrank2 cfl.rr.com)

In the Andy Weir novel and movie, The Martian, the main character says “I’m going to science the s*%t out of this!” I talk to my high school seniors about how they are about to have to adult for the first time in their lives without a parachute.
-Paul Anthony Van Tuyl, Santa Rosa, California (pvantuyl sbcglobal.net)

My husband or I sometimes burrito ourselves in the covers leaving the other one cold.
-Helen Bailey, Littleton, Massachusetts (bluedacnis14 gmail.com)

I just received an email notice about the final collection of leaves: “If you have missed final collection (ended Dec 15) you must containerize the remaining leaves at the curb on your property.”
-Jane Simpson, Cincinnati, Ohio (jems12345 icloud.com)

An old favorite that seemed so natural when I coined it: instead of “performing surgery” why not “surgerize”?
-Hunter Watts, New Orleans, Lousiana (phorba005 cox.net)

I have written three books on historic Catholic churches in New Mexico, all recently published by Sunstone Press in Santa Fe. Many of the churches are very remote, and in the books I describe my explorations to find them as churching, analogous to birding.
-David Policansky, Mountainair, New Mexico (davidpolicansky gmail.com)

A co-worker once told me that a meeting had not been calendarized yet. I told her that I didn’t think that word had been dictionarified.
-Lee Entrekin, Old Fort, North Carolina (harpo mindspring.com)

I am a Pilates instructor. We turned Pilates into a verb: Will you Pilate today?
-Jill Bisson, Grand Forks, North Dakota (jillbisson gmail.com)

For nouns used as verbs, I propose this eponym: “Here, let me Garg it for you”, using Garg as a synonym for Google or librarian in the case of researching the meaning or derivation of a word.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

As an archivist, I fear telling someone, “I’ll archive that”, as it can be be misunderstood to mean, “I’ll put it away in a box” instead of making possible answers accessible through arrangement and description.
-Alison Dundy, New York, New York (alison.shore.dundy gmail.com)

As a tech writer in the semiconductor industry with a background in teaching English, it took me a while to accept the use of a logical AND and OR as verbs. Example: “The input bits are OR-ed together in the multiplexer.”
-Todd Bersley, Thousand Oaks, California (bersleyt yahoo.com)

I don’t like the sentiment of the sign (I think there is plenty of wrong on both sides in this conflict), and this verbing is not one I’d push to amplify, but I felt I had to share: “You will not antisemite me into complacency with genocide.” (Archived photo, source)
-Elizabeth Wise, Cle Elum, Washington (youngwise74 yahoo.com)

In my family, my sister and I didn’t know that grocering was not a verb until our mid to late forties when our brother told us that it was not. We were both sorely disappointed, but continued to use it.
-Abby Belknap, Paso Robles, California (abby.belknap gmail.com)

Let me bottom line that for you.
-Diane Colello, Saugerties, New York (dianebc22 gmail.com)

From: Richard Mead (rick656 icloud.com)
Subject: Refdesking

Coming from three generations of librarians, I was gratified to see “librarian” featured as your example of a word “firsted” (?!) as a noun and then verbed. My sister (archivist and the third generation of family librarians), was pleased but unsurprised to note your confirmation of her $1.7 trillion monetary valuation. She added that the noun-to-verb word she uses most often in her job is “refdesk” - as in “Let me refdesk that recipe for you.”

Rick Mead, Sebastopol, California

From: Laura Daniels (partofthedesign gmail.com)
Subject: librarians, verbing nouns

As a librarian, I thank you for your praise of my profession. I’d also like to share that my colleagues and I sometimes use “library” as a verb as in, “I really learned to library by working here, not in library school.”

Another one is “rabbitholing” for when we are, well, going down rabbit holes.

Laura Daniels, Ithaca, New York

From: Stephanie Shlasky (shlasky att.net)
Subject: To Verb or Not To Verb?

A librarian is a person. By turning a person into a verb I feel you are dehumanizing them. We have enough problems caused by Republicans trying to turn librarians into the enemies of the people.

Stephanie Shlasky, Pasadena, California

From: Tom Pater (tompater shaw.ca)
Subject: Librarian as a verb

Instead of using librarian as a verb, I suggest “to librate”. Although the word already exists, it’s obscure enough or obsolete enough to allow for a new meaning.

Tom Pater, Courtenay, Canada

From: Debi Lemieur (zetousa gmail.com)
Subject: blazon

In poetry, a blazon is a rhetorical device used when a poem details the various parts of a body (usually a woman’s body). There are lots of examples of this, including these lines from the Epithalamion by Edmund Spenser

Her goodly eyes like sapphires shining bright,
Her forehead ivory white
Her cheeks like apples which the sun hath rudded,
Her lips like cherries charming men to bite.

Debi Lemieur, Professor, Temple University, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Steven G. Kellman (kellman1 gmail.com)
Subject: Blazon

In medieval and Renaissance poetry, blazon referred to a catalog of the physical features of the beloved. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 is a parody of the blazon. Beginning with “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” it disparages the beloved’s eyes, lips, brεasts, cheeks, and hair, only to conclude that, despite demeaning comparisons,

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.

Steven G. Kellman, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Texas, San Antonio, Texas

From: Timothy Mooney (tim_mooney earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--blazon

I’m an actor, director, and playwright who mostly specializes in performing one-man plays.

This word arrived just as I was memorizing the script for my one-man Twelfth Night: Olivia, having fallen in love with “Cesario” (Viola in disguise), learns that “he” is a “gentle man” and rather than notice what has long been obvious to the audience (that Viola is really a gentlewoman), she fixates on the wrong half of the word, noting “his” noble status:

“I’ll be sworn thou art! Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions, and spirit
Do give thee fivefold blazon!”

In other words, the five items she ticks off on her list each accredits “Cesario’s blazon” with further proof.

Tim Mooney, Imlay City, Michigan

From: Daniel Millstone (danielmillstone yahoo.com)
Subject: physic

This brought to mind an old poem.

The self-obit of Isaac Letsome, MD

When people’s ill, they comes to I,
I physics, bleeds, and sweats ‘em;
Sometimes they live, sometimes they die.
What’s that to I? I lets ‘em.

Daniel Millstone, Brooklyn, New York

From: Elspeth Richmond (elspeth telus.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--physic

Whenever I’ve been in London, one of my most favourite places to linger is the Chelsea Physic Garden. I’m so happy to be reminded of this beautiful place to shelter and heal.

Elspeth Richmond, N. Vancouver, Canada

From: Ellen D. Murphy (radochas gmail.com)
Subject: Barnacle

James Joyce’s long-suffering but devoted partner (they eventually married) was Galway-born Nora Barnacle. When told of his son’s romance with Nora, Joyce’s father John Stanislaus commented: “Barnacle? She’ll stick with him.”

Ellen D. Murphy, Portland, Maine

From: Amy Caroline (amyvcaroline googlemail.com)
Subject: barnacle

In the early days of brεastfeeding when baby is cluster feeding (frequent, long feeds) they’re referred to as a bοοb barnacle in brεastfeeding groups.

Amy Caroline, Blaby, UK

Blazon Twaddle
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: blazon and barnacle

Not too long ago, TV talk-show host John Oliver was asking everyone to start referring to Trump as Donald J. Drumpf, using his ancestral German surname. Here, I’ve invented a Drumpf family blazon/crest, reflecting the current Drumpf clan’s reputation as grifters; using fraud, lying, cheating, graft, nepotism and racketeering to gain their infamy and dubious fortune.

How Chummy!
Our word barnacle transported me to the briny depths, and a unique class of fish, the remoras, that cling to sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and dugongs. In a symbiotic relationship with their hosts, they eat cast-off scraps of shredded prey from their hosts, as well as parasites on the hosts’ bodies. Situated behind their heads is a lozenge-shaped dorsal “sucker disc”, which allows them to adhere to their host fish even when they’re travelling at high speeds.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Verbing the noun
1. Blazon
2. Spitchcock
3. Physic
4. Troth
5. Barnacle
= 1. Sketch
2. Snip in three chunks
3. Vaccines to help
4. Zero myth
5. Crab thing below boat
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

= 1. Ritz, sheen; be cocky
2. Harsh treatment
3. Heals
4. Oh! Bob pens nitpicking vow
5. Clutch
= 1. Beribbon (Chintz? No thanks!)
2. Hacks into pieces
3. Try that phlegm cure
4. Vows
5. Leech
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Brand awareness is Marketing’s aim
So, we’ll blazon the company’s name
Till it’s on ev’ry mind,
Then the sales, you will find
Will skyrocket -- it’s all in the fame.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I don’t give a fig or a raisin
That people object when I blazon
My being a poet.
I proclaim, so they know it,
My limericks all are amazin’.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

On towers, hotels, and resorts
In letters of gold per reports,
Trump’s surname he’d blazon
In manner quite brazen,
But now it is heard in the courts.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“With a song and a dance,” said the raisin,
“On commercials our greatness we blazon.
Though we’re merely dried grapes,
From your cupboard we traipse
To make wheat bran with milk just amazin’!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


If you’re French, I’ve no doubt you eat eel.
(For myself, I can’t see the appeal.)
To enjoy, fricassee,
But first spitchcock -- mais oui!
And, pray, bon appétit with your meal.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

To spitchcock an eel for a meal
Is something with which I can’t deal.
If I touched that worm,
It surely would squirm.
The mere thought of that just makes me reel.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Either spitch- or spatchcock: ugly word,
Whether dealing with eel or with bird.
Humans all have to eat.
Some humans like meat.
For others, just plants are preferred.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Those directors who mistreat a cast
I hope are a thing of the past.
I heard Alfred Hitchcock
Would some women spitchcock --
Tippi Hedren for one was aghast.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If you’re a big fan of fresh eel,
You might like a spitchcock-themed meal.
But, me, I will pass,
For eels give me gas.
The taste also has no appeal.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“There’s a spell on me cast by some witch, doc,”
Said Macbeth. “It’s like something from Hitchcock.
When I’m sleeping, I feel
I’ve been split like an eel!”
“Zis is guilt about thanes whom you spitchcock.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When the going gets tough, don’t despair!
There’s a physic will make the repair.
You’ll find prunes do the trick,
And, by golly, they’re quick! --
And perhaps we will leave our lim’ there.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

His doctor he often would bug,
In search of a physic or drug.
“I’m so ill at ease,
I’m begging you please,
For something to help me unplug!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There are times when a cure-all’s not clear
Other times it’s as plain as the ear
On each side of your face
‘Cause the sole saving grace
Is a physic that works on your rear!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Me feel bloated and blocked; is horrific,”
Said Oog. “Me in need of a physic.
Though invention of cheese
Me had thought was bee’s knees,
No have Ex-Lax in Age Neolithic.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Lovers yearn to be pledging their troth,
For the most part, that is -- some are loath.
The word “vow” is, to them,
Synonym for condemn --
And they fear it inhibits their growth.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Both I and the great Philip Roth
Were cut from the same top shelf cloth.
From New Jersey are we,
And I share his esprit.
So, to read all his books is my troth.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The minute he met her, he knew
That she was the one he would woo.
It took a few years,
But now it appears
His troth he has pledged to her, too.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I am yours; take me now,” said the moth;
“To the flames I belong, that’s my troth.
From Repubs I have learned
To seek out getting burned
By a god unaccountably wroth.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I gave up my philanderer’s way,
And I’m glad that I did, I must say.
It’s the barnacled life
I pursue with my wife --
She’s the one that I’m worried might stray.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

She’s barnacled onto her beau.
It’s clear that she will not let go.
I won’t even try
To talk to her guy --
She’s very possessive, you know.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In texting, there’s often no article;
But to “a”, “an”, and “the” I still barnacle.
For our sins on the phone
We must surely atone;
What we’ve done to our language is farcical.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He watched the Maui blazon TV, and prayed all his friends were safe.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“We’ll tell the public he’s got weapons of mass destruction and go in guns a-blazon,” Cheney and Rumsfeld advised Dubya.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You’ll get nowhere with me with thi-spitchcock,” scoffed the hen to the strutting rooster.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Olivia Newton John had a hit song called “Let’s Get Physic-al”.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“No physic,” complained the little boy about the soda that had gone flat.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“C’mon, troth-e ball awready,” the umpire admonished the pitcher.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“But you’re a saint to children the world over! Opening a barnacle hurt your image,” said Santa’s publicist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him. -John Morley, statesman and writer (24 Dec 1838-1923)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith