Verbing, Nouning, and Other Sports

Beer MeOver the years, there’s been much ado about verbing (when a noun becomes a verb, such as Google) and, less commonly, nouning (when a verb or other part of speech becomes a noun, such as fail). Grammarians and grannies will surely gripe about it, but I’d like to share some of the hits and misses with you.

Words that got verbed

Adventure: I’d never seen or heard adventure used as a verb until I visited the CouchSurfing site. Their slogan, “CouchSurfing helps you meet and adventure with new friends around the world,” instantly got my back up, but then I thought—what the heck. Every other noun is doing it, so why not adventure!

Beer: Beer me means “get me a beer,” but the phrase can also be used with any object to mean “get me XYZ.” My favourite usage moment is from The Office, when Jim says, “Lord, beer me the strength,” as he reaches for a cold one.

Guest list: My co-worker, Rebecca, recently hipped me to this one. She puts on shows and apparently people ask her to guest list them all the time. Guess I should get out more!

Words that got nouned

Fail: Fail has got to be today’s trendiest verb-noun and is often paired with the much-hated and worn‑out adjective epic. Many fail-haters have asked the Internet world why fail needs to be a noun, when we’ve already got failure. There is a subtle difference, however. As one Internet commenter put it, “The word fail used as a noun denotes a more specific moment of failure, an epic failure, or, more often, an idea or project that was doomed to fail from the beginning and one that is almost always captured as a picture.”

Back to school: If you’ve been following our Word on the Street blog, you’ve already heard me prattle on about this one. If not, check it out.

Creative: I once asked a woman what she did for a living, to which she replied, “I’m a creative.” “A creative what?” was my comeback. Alas, she was right and I was wrong. In the advertising world, creative is short for creative department or for someone who works there. Who knew!

What are your favourite words that got verbed or nouned?

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