I’m going to start this post with a confession.
I’m part of the generation that was never formally taught English grammar. I don’t know what adverb means, I think pronouns sound slightly seedy, and that conjunction is something that happens in a car park outside a prison.
But I do know that if you use a noun as a verb, you’re going to look like a complete and utter berk.
For your reference, here is the difference between a noun and a verb:
noun /noun/ nouns, plural A word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things (common noun), or to name a particular one of these (proper noun)
verb noun /vərb/ verbs, plural A word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen (Yes, verb is a noun. This is why I’m generally opposed to spending any time with formal grammar. It just winds me up)
“Verbing” – a truly horrific phenomenon
Verbing, or verbification, is the practice of taking a harmless, charming little noun and forcibly cramming it into parts of a sentence where a verb would normally sit.
For example, “Inbox”, a noun referring to the part of your email account where incoming mail is shown, has been verbed.
Where we’d once say something quick and cheerful like “drop me an email”, certain people now use the brutally curt “inbox me”.
And it looks horrible.
Wikipedia claims that verbification is a generator of neologisms, and a demonstration that English is a wonderful, living language that’s shaped by the people who use it.
Personally, I think that if you can’t be trusted to use a word properly (or at least attractively), you shouldn’t be allowed to form sentences.
These are NOUNS, not VERBS
I put a message out across Twitter to see whether others felt the same way I do about the scourge of verbing. Unsurprisingly, there’s a fair few strong opinions out there. So make sure you steer clear of the following:
My own bete noire, inbox, is a textbook case of unnecessary verbing. There are many alternatives to wielding inbox as a verb; text me, email me, drop me a line. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that every sort of messaging system that uses an inbox has its own, more palateable alternative.
Ever been in a situation when something’s made you feel weird? I have. Most recently, it was when someone let me know that spiders “just weird [them]“. Oh dear. There’s only one instance when you should use weird as a verb, and that’s when you explain to people that verbing weirds language.
Architect (Suggested by @BetaRish)
Architect is a word that doesn’t work as a verb. While some on this list at least have a thin veneer of acceptability, there’s just no way I can wedge architect in to a sentence in that way. I’ll architect that for you? He architected that building? We architect solutions? Eugh. It’s probably the last one, isn’t it?
Minute (Suggested by @jannamark)
I assume that’s minute as in 60 seconds, not minute as in tiny. Either way, it’s clumsy and incredibly specialised. In case you didn’t know, you minute the minutes of a meeting. Instead of just writing them down.
Medal (Suggested by @TurnerInk)
If there’s one thing guaranteed to wind me up about the London Olympics, it’s the fact that I’ll be expected to cheer if someone from the hinterlands of Wales wins a medal in Greco-Roman 100m walking. If there’s two things that’ll wind me up, the second will be someone using medal as a verb.
Trend (Suggested by @SquidofPurple)
Another confession. I like trend as a verb. But I’m the sort of smug Twitter user that lives in hope that a hastily-constructed hashtag will be sent into the trending topics by a casual RT from Brian Blessed. The rest of you, I imagine, look upon things that trend with disgust in your eyes.
Action (Suggested by @thedailysarah)
Welcome to Buzzwords 101. In this webinar, we’ll be actioning these solutions to produce blogpreneurial outcomes. Yeah. Sarah’s right. This one seriously f**ks me off too.
Dialogue – (Suggested by @suewalder)
Can’t we just talk?
Obviously this isn’t a definitive list, and there’s plenty of room for more suggestions. If you feel strongly about verbing, share your outrage or your spirited defence in the comments section. Just don’t you dare inbox me.