Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As the title of a Forbes article, it has been drawn to my attention because of the use of birth as a verb. I think it should be give birth to or bear.

share|improve this question
1  
Collins would back up the author, although the usage is labeled as rare. Still, I can see why a headline writer would opt to use the verbal form – for headline writers, space is at a premium, and every omitted word has value. –  J.R. Jan 27 '13 at 8:44
    
See The Give That Keeps On Gifting. –  Robusto Jan 28 '13 at 3:01
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Birth has been in use as a transitive verb since at least 1906 with the meaning ‘give birth to; to give rise to’. The OED describes it as ‘chiefly dialect and US dialect’. Speakers of AmEng may be able to tell us whether its use is more widespread, but it is not common in BrEng.

share|improve this answer
2  
This usage is not common in the U.S., either, although I'm not startled to see it used this way, especially in a headline. This Ngram shows it's quite rare, particularly in the context of childbirth. –  J.R. Jan 27 '13 at 9:52
    
Yes, when it is used, it's probably used figuratively. –  Barrie England Jan 27 '13 at 9:54
    
"Birthed a baby" or "birthed a babe" is certainly to be found, but I likewise agree that it's rare. I would have classified it as "poetic" (which for practical purposes pretty much means "know what it means when you see it, but don't actually use it"). –  Jon Hanna Jan 27 '13 at 9:56
add comment

"Give rise to' would be a better phrase to use here. My guess is that a journalist/editor has thought 'birth' would grab people's attention and fill up the limited space they have for headlines.

share|improve this answer
1  
I'm not sure I agree that "Give Rise to" would be better than "Birth". Give rise to implies something that happens over time, while birth (as a verb) implies someone has sprung on the scene more suddenly. It all depends on which mood the headline writer was hoping to set. –  J.R. Jan 27 '13 at 8:46
    
They did succeed at least in grabbing my attention. –  Terry Li Jan 27 '13 at 8:49
1  
Did you mean give rise to or give birth to? Why would give rise to be a better fit here? –  Terry Li Jan 27 '13 at 8:52
    
"Give rise to' would be better wording because there's only one Steve Jobs in the world. "Give birth to' implies that it's a new thing/event. In the context of the original headline, it would be like creating another Steve Jobs in China. –  amanda witt Jan 27 '13 at 8:55
    
+1: it helps journalists/editors etc. to be a bit informal in what they write if it can get more eyeballs –  KK. Jan 29 '13 at 5:28
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.