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Aug 19, 2019
This week’s theme
People who have become verbs

This week’s words
pythagorize
malaprop
nestorize
dewitt
aladdinize

pythagorize
Pythagoras, writing in a book
(detail from The School of Athens)
Art: Raphael

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Turning a person into a verb (to boycott, coined after a real person named Boycott) happens from time to time, but singer-songwriter Paul Simon got carried away and turned about a dozen people into verbs in a single song:

I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored
I been John O’Hara’d, McNamara’d
I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I’m blind
I been Ayn Randed ...

While none of the people2verb coinages from this song have made it into the dictionary, yet, many others from elsewhere have. This week we’ll look at five people, real and fictional, who have become part of the English language.

What people2verb-ing have you done? Share it below or email us at words@wordsmith.org.

pythagorize

PRONUNCIATION:
(puh-THOG-uh-ryz)

MEANING:
verb intr.: To philosophize or speculate in the manner of Pythagoras or the Pythagoreans.
verb tr.: To convert (a person or thing) into another.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Pythagoras, Greek philosopher (c. 570-495 BCE). Earliest documented use: 1603.

NOTES:
Pythagoras is best known for the Pythagorean theorem, although it was widely known before him. Pythagoras was ultimately a philosopher with wide interests and had many followers. He also believed in the transmigration of the soul which resulted in the second sense of the word pythagorize.
Did you know there’s a Pythagoras Day? It doesn’t occur every year. Last one was on 8/15/17 (8² + 15² = 17²). Next will occur on 12/16/20 (12² + 16² = 20²). Start planning the celebrations now!

USAGE:
“Your presupposed celestial unity
shall make all kinds of words spring up in you;
and when your scattered numbers resonate,
pythagorize within your constellations.”
By Ruben Dario (translated by Elinor Randall); Quoted in The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry; Oxford University Press; 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snugly. -Ogden Nash, poet (19 Aug 1902-1971)

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