What to do when you’ve been ‘verbed’

The process by which a noun becomes a verb is part of the language’s evolution, but sometimes the resulting word just sounds silly—and better options often exist already.

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I received an email in which the sender used “PowerPoint” as a verb. “Send me a detailed outline and I’ll PowerPoint it for you.” Oh, the humanity. Verbing, verbification, or denominalization is the process of turning nouns into verbs. It’s a perfectly natural process. As linguist Steven Pinker says, “Easy conversion of nouns to verbs has been part of English grammar for centuries; it is one of the processes that make English English.” Today, we all Google, text, friend, blog, and bookmark. Verbing is how language evolves, but sometimes the results are ridiculous—particularly when verbs are created from nouns that were verbs in the first place, or when there is a stronger, more precise verb available.

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