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I'm trying to enter antonyms by part of speech into a database (for natural language processing) and have run into a problem with "indoors" vs "outdoors". One dictionary lists parts of speech for "outdoors" as adverb, noun, and adjective; another, as just adverb and adjective; a third, as adverb and noun.

The first dictionary lists "indoors" only as adverb; the second, as adverb and adjective; the third, only as adverb. None of them list "indoors" as a noun.

I plan on ignoring the dictionaries and entering the words as antonyms of each other as nouns, adjectives and adverbs, but before I do...

Is there really some reason that "indoors" can't be a noun? (E.g.: "My wife loves the outdoors, but I love the indoors.")

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"Is there some reason that indoors can't be a noun?" strikes me a a strange question. It's just not . . . people would understand you if you used it as a noun, but that is not considered a word. It makes as much sense to argue "Why isn't napkin a verb, which could mean using a napkin?" – Jeremy May 15 '13 at 20:51
@Jeremy Yet this sort of thing does happen, often with trademarks. See xeroxed in the 1960s. (I googled that.) – ghoppe May 15 '13 at 21:45
I have another one: "David Rakoff 1964-2012: Writer penned lauded, darkly comic essays" – ghoppe May 15 '13 at 21:52
You haven't mentioned the four you haven't: Davided, Rakoffed, writered and comic(k)ed. – Edwin Ashworth May 15 '13 at 22:09
What's your POS set? – John Lawler May 16 '13 at 2:19

1 Answer 1

At first I thought you had a point. But then as I thought about it, I realized that this usage (I love the indoors) is quirky. Most people would say I love staying indoors.

According to, outdoors has come to mean "open spaces" as a noun since 1857. Indoors is first attested 1799 in George Washington's writing.

Indoors simply isn't widely used by native english speakers as a noun. (Yet.)

That being said, there might be something to what you're saying. This Google Ngram clearly shows that outdoors is used as a noun far more frequently, but there are some more recent usages of the indoors that aren't purely adjectival (ie. the indoors food market) and do seem to use indoors as a noun. I suppose it remains to be seen if dictionaries pick up on this and agree that it's not just a poetic/novel turn of phrase or grammatical error.

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Really? "The indoors food market"? Not "the indoor food market"? Ouch, where did you find that? – terdon May 15 '13 at 22:18
@terdon I don't recall. It's in the Ngram corpus somewhere. ;) – ghoppe May 15 '13 at 23:01

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