Greetings, all! It’s been a regular whirlwind here at Maven Central. Phone calls, appointments, and all manner of other fun and exciting things have been going on. Such a schedule can be hard on a gal if she’s not prepared. Luckily for your Style Maven, there are dandy reversible pieces for the wardrobe that can double as work wear and play clothes.
Language often follows, er, suit when it comes to double duty. Words that spend many years as nouns gradually take on verb status. Words like husband, or Google, or the recently fashionable mainstream leap to mind; I’m sure that you can think of plenty of examples yourself.
This kind of shift is nothing new. Ages before beloved comic strip character Calvin described the fun of “verbing” words, speakers were bending language to fit their needs. The CMOS states that the word husband went from a noun to a verb somewhere between the years 1220 and 1420. Where there is language, there is bound to be change. Dialect and jargon are linguistic hotbeds of noun-to-verb transitions.
Use these newly minted verbs sparingly, though. If you’re quoting someone in your work, well then, you’d naturally go with their own words. According to the Manual, formal prose requires a light touch. “Such recently transformed words should be used cautiously if at all.”
Right! I’m off to run a load of laundry. Don’t forget to keep your nouns and verbs sorted, and remember: a well-turned phrase is always in style.
The Style Maven can often be found with one hand clutching a cup of coffee while the other flips pages in The Chicago Manual of Style. Known to her favorite four-year-old as "Mama", she spends an inordinate amount of time playing with toys. You can find some of her other work on her Procraftinator page.