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Today's Word



Apr 19, 2021
This week’s theme
Nouning verbs and verbing nouns

This week’s words

Photo: Richard

Previous week’s theme
Miscellaneous words
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with Anu Garg

If you are one of those people who are bothered by the use of the word “invite” as a noun, you should listen to this beautiful, heartfelt song (4 min.) from the musical Fiddler on the Roof:

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch

As it happens, things change and the song eventually becomes:

Matchmaker, matchmaker,
plan me no plans.
So bring me no ring,
groom me no groom.
Find me no find,
catch me no catch.

One could summarize the whole song as:

X me an X
X me no X.

At this point, you might be inclined to say:

Songwriter, songwriter,
noun me no verb
verb me no noun.

There’s a long tradition of this pattern, verbing of nouns and nouning of verbs. Shakespeare in Richard II has the Duke of York say:

Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle.

This week we’ll see some nouns and verbs that started out in one form and evolved into another. It happens all the time. Because language.

What nouns have you verbed? What verbs have you nouned? Post them below or email us at words@wordsmith.org.

Reader, reader, comment me a comment!



noun:1. A place for storing firewood.
 2. A place for administering punishment.
 3. A place for intensive practice, especially music practice.
verb tr., intr.:1. To practice diligently, especially on a musical instrument.
 2. To punish or reprimand.
 3. To coach a witness before a trial.

From the practice of using a woodshed for punishing a child, for intensive music practice, etc. From wood, from Old English wudu + shed, a variant of shade, from Old English sceadu. Earliest documented use, noun: 1764, verb: 1893.

“With McEnroe you never got the feeling he’d woodshedded for hours at that half-volley.”
Al Murray; I Was There When ... John McEnroe Played His Last Semi; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 3, 2003.

“Were you ever taken to the woodshed?”
Donald G. McNeil Jr.; Fauci on What Working for Trump Was Really Like; The New York Times; Jan 24, 2021.

“Occasionally, when a prospective developer or consultant sent her flowers before a meeting, she would demand, ‘Would that guy send these if I was Mr. Mayor?’ Her staff learned to hide these bouquets, just so the poor mopes who sent them would not get woodshedded by the mayor before they made their pitch.”
Joseph Sabino Mistick; Councilwomen Pittsburgh Tough; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania); Nov 25, 2012.

“Paul Ravich will have these witnesses woodshedded to the point of no surprises.”
David D. Williams; Gamesmanship; SandLine Press; 2014.

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

There is a beauty in discovery. There is mathematics in music, a kinship of science and poetry in the description of nature, and exquisite form in a molecule. Attempts to place different disciplines in different camps are revealed as artificial in the face of the unity of knowledge. All literate men are sustained by the philosopher, the historian, the political analyst, the economist, the scientist, the poet, the artisan and the musician. -Glenn T. Seaborg, scientist, Nobel laureate (19 Apr 1912-1999)

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