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Today's Word



Jun 5, 2017
This week’s theme
Nouns that became verbs

This week’s words

Showboating at a high-school graduation (10 sec.)

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with Anu Garg

When you receive an invite to a new exhibit do you pencil it in your calendar or skip it just because they called it an “invite” instead of an “invitation” and “exhibit” instead of an “exhibition”?

When a TV soap opera finally reveals who is going to end up with whom, do you wish they called it a “revelation” instead of a “reveal”?

Do you wonder if it’s too much to ask the new generation to use the language properly instead of twisting words every which way? Put another way, is it too big of an ask?

Here’s some history:

The words “invite”, “reveal”, and “exhibit” have been in use as nouns for 400 years or more. And the word “ask” has been in use as a noun for more than a thousand years.

Welcome to the inconsistent world of human languages. Some words cross boundaries into other parts of speech and become acceptable in short order. Others, even after hundreds of years, raise the hackles of purists. One way to think of this is: If it’s OK to use the words “demand” and “request” as verbs and nouns, why not the word “ask”? All three started out as nouns and became verbs in short order.

Verbing of nouns (and nouning of verbs) has been going on for a long time. This week we’ll see five nouns that have also become verbs.

PS: In Antony and Cleopatra Shakespeare has Cleopatra say to a messenger: “I’ll unhair thy head.” Give it a think. And look for Shakespeare to make an unexpected appearance later this week.



verb intr.: To seek attention by showy, flamboyant behavior; to show off.
noun: One who seeks attention in such a way; a show-off.

After riverboats, with onboard theater and troupes of actors, that stopped at towns along the river to offer entertainment. Earliest documented use: 1839.

“One club official quipped he didn’t realise it was an exhibition match as Bradley Walker showboated in midfield.”
Nick Loughlin; Walker Adds to His Classic Collection; Northern Echo (Darlington, UK); Mar 17, 2014.

See more usage examples of showboat in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience? -Adam Smith, economist (5 Jun 1723-1790)

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