Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Verbing of Nouns and Hats Off to Bill Watterson


The trend of taking nouns and transforming them into verbs was hot for a while, having bubbled up as business jargon as managers sought to workshop ideas and effort solutions. It is excruciating rhetoric that persists in some degree, but has also become a caricature of itself, so few serious business environments still propagate this kind of pompous doublespeak.

This is English though, and some of these words retain respect and even enjoy standardization, the premium example of which has additionally become the generic descriptor for all search engines, Google. Who hasn’t verbed Google? And yes, the word verbing is an example of verbing. Others that have become acceptable within my lifetime include plating (in restaurants) and accessing.

Not all nouns that have slipped past the gatekeepers and have successfully become verbs in recent memory are as charming, including impact and dialog. Both are in the dictionary as verbs, so the damage has already been done. The most horrific verbed nouns though are born of haphazard gerund creation, words like actioning, solutioning, and the worst I’ve heard lately, clienting. Sadly, incentivizing has made the cut and is now a word.

As is often the case, Bill Watterson's Calvin said it best: "Verbing weirds language."