Verbing and Nouning

Verbing and nouning are favorite pastimes of so many writers. Surely you know what these two words mean. No?

Verbing takes a verb and turns it into a noun: James, that was a brave ask you put forth at the meeting this morning, and because of your bravery we scored a huge get.

As an old “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon pointed out years ago, “Verbing weirds language.”

Conversely, nouning takes what is usually a noun and verbifies it (as I just did): James suggested we conference about the budget this afternoon. We need to find a solve for our fiscal woes. We all remember how James orchestrated last year’s recover, so we hope he can do it again.

People use this kind of language thinking it makes them look important and knowledgeable. It doesn’t. It makes them look pompous and ridiculous. Straightforward, simple English is best.



Filed under All things having to do with the English language

2 responses to “Verbing and Nouning

  1. echo

    (extended standng ovation! thunderous applause! taxi whistles! exuberant shouts of ‘brava’!)
    Thank you!
    It also makes one look lazy, in that you’re using one word to take the place of many. One ‘new verb’ grates on my nerves avery time I hear it – ‘parenting’.
    ARGH!!! Back in my day, aka ‘ancient history’, you didn’t ‘parent’; you WERE a parent. If you were deserving of the name, you held the title of parent and you did the job of a parent.
    Also, sometimes ‘ing-ing a word’, like ‘conference’, can be confusing. My junior executive-wannabe supervisor asked me if i was experienced in ‘conferencing.’ Then he went around telling everyone I was so dumb and that I didn’t know how to conference, because I asked for clarification.
    ‘Conferencing’ can refer to making a conference phone call, or arranging for people to have a conference, or holding a conference for out-of-town representatives, or that he wished to have a conference with me.
    As it turned out, he wanted me to sit in on a conference he had arranged with the sales vendors and take notes.
    I’d never heard of anyone using ‘conferencing’ in that sense before.
    To quote the immortal Calvin again, ‘verbing weirds language.’
    Or, as I so ‘eloquently’ put it, ‘don’t be ing-ing the words, dude!’


    • Parenting! YUCK. Right up there with “I babysat the Cunninghams.” I used to babysit FOR the Cunninghams. And now people graduate high school. I graduated FROM high school. Am I truly an anachronism? Already? How did that happen so quickly?

      How I miss “Calvin and Hobbes”!


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