1. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    "Verbizing" a noun, adjective, etc.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BillyxRansom, Jul 6, 2011.

    Just came across "smithereening".

    Apparently, smithereen is hardly a word as it is (I thought it was), but I actually read the word with -ing at the end of it, hence, "verbizing" (my apologies for making crap up as I go along, but i found the word "verbize" when googling for that very word to see if it could be used reasonably. In fact, in so doing, I "verbized" the word "verb"), and I was just wondering if anyone does this kind of altering of words to make nouns into verbs, or anything at all like that, in order to get your point across in as few words as possible.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Smithereens" is definitely a word.

    I wouldn't transform a noun into a verb in anything but very informal writing, and the writing would almost always have to have a comic element to it. But under those circumstances, and very rarely used, I could see it being both amusing and effective.
     
  3. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    "Verbizing" is actually called verbing, according to the dictionary. I could see its use popular with certain characters and their dialogue.
     
  4. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Don't, just don't make nouns into verbs.
    Limit it to dialogue, and even if there is no other way to write it, find a better way.
    Unless you're doing it to tick off the serious literature types or playing it for laughs, then by all means, verb every noun you know.
     
  5. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    I read it in a pretty "serious" novel.

    ...I'm so confused...
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I verb nouns in the interests of comedy. Or when my characters want to do it. But when I'm writing a third-person narrative, and adopting a serious tone, I never do it.

    Verbing nouns is a technique that belongs in comedy, not anywhere else.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    People in business do it all the time. It's one of my pet peeves.
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    *Applauds* Well done, sir.
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It really isn't that uncommon, or that interesting. There are plenty of verbs that we take for granted today that are relatively recent results of verbing nouns (things like 'to parent', 'to access', 'to gift'). Clearly, there's nothing inherently comic about the process, it's simply used in a comedic context quite often. It is, however, possible to use it in serious writing in a serious context, provided its use serves a valuable purpose (as with the examples listed above, where other verbs aren't suitable and the verbification does not result in something that sounds ridiculous).
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    In business (and in reporting, my area), the rules are different because it's a professional setting, and there are professional rules.

    Fiction is different, though. For example, grammatical errors or informal tones("Me and my brother went to the store," "She needs to get it together") would not fly in a professional write-up, but in fiction, you have to think about the POV character's voice and intended audience, not what sounds the most businesslike or proper.

    I agree that noun --> verbs (Ninja-ing! ;) ) should only be used in comedy, for the most part. But fiction is your domain, and as long as you know your grammar well, you can make up your own rules.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Shakespeare did it a lot. It's a normal process in the development of language, but it usually happens first in the spoken language (which is usually generated on-the-fly, so there isn't always time to think of the best existing word or phrase). In writing I would search for a more appropriate word or phrase unless I was after a particular effect or I was hearing that particular verbing so often that I could consider it fair game for dialog.
     
  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    As ChickenFreak already pointed out, the word is 'smithereens' with an 's' on the end. That's why you can't find verification of the word smithereen. Why must it have the 's' on the end? Well, one solo smithereen would just be a tiny bit of something.

    Also, remember that language is a living thing. Not so many years ago, the word impact was not the verb we hear ad nauseum these days. It was, primarily, a noun, secondarily an intransitive verb. (Like that wisdom tooth that just won't finish erupting and has to be cut out by the dentist.) Nowadays, its most common usage is actually a new usage. Impact as a verb. (As in, "He didn't now how his speech would impact the audience.")

    For the longest time, I would cringe everytime anyone used it thusly. But, I finally came to terms with the fact that language is a living thing, constantly changing, growing, flexing. Words are added. Words are lost. Once upon a time, 'ain't' was not considered improper grammar. It was the all-purpose contraction for 'is not', 'am not', 'are not'. Then one day some high falutin' fella in starched britches decided it was no longer appropriate. It didn't 'sound' right. 'Ain't' was dropped from the lexicon.

    And the word 'it'? Until sometime in the mid-1800's it was pronounced with an 'h' sound on the beginning as in "Hit ain't going to make anyone happy."

    Smithereening? I've never heard the word before. It's undoubtedly a brand new word from someone's fertile mind. But, though I've never heard it, it immediately conjures and image of something being smashed into hundreds of thousands of teeny tiny pieces. As in "smashed to smithereens", right?
     

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