Faculty Scholarship

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2013

Abstract

The metamorphosis of nouns into verbs, commonly called verbing or verbification, reflects a time-honored tradition in the English language of coining new uses from familiar words. Linguists use the term "functional shifting" to describe the conversion of nouns into verbs and vice versa. Verbing is common. By one estimate, about twenty percent of all verbs in English derive from nouns. Almost any noun can be verbed. Some verbed nouns are easy to identify because they don't change form when they become verbs: stump, mouse and torpedo. But, the transformation of other nouns into verbs requires the addition of an -ize, -ate, -ify, or -ization....

Verbing enriches our language by economically conveying information with precision. As such, verbing can enhance the effectiveness of your legal writing. However, careless verbing can impart confusing ambiguity and imprecision into your writing. [excerpt]

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