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.

I recently read the word "mainstream" as a verb and doubted whether it was the best choice in the sentence. Can you say you want to "mainstream" something? Perhaps it is grammatical but just unadvisable?

share|improve this question
    
Is a dictionary definition unsatisfactory? mainstream –  Matt Эллен May 23 '13 at 14:51
    
Many nouns are getting verbified each day. Go ahead if your sentence is not ambiguous. –  Kris May 29 '13 at 6:20
add comment

2 Answers

There's nothing technically wrong with "verbing" any noun you feel like, as long as your listeners understand you.

Personally, I tend to consider it a red flag that the speaker doesn't really know what they are talking about, and are trying to cover up that fact by throwing impressive-sounding jargony words at me. So doing that as an attempt to impress me is not liable to work out well for you. But I can't speak for anyone else.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Mainstream has been used as a verb in print since 1973 (and possibly before), which means that it appeared in speech well before that. In a general sense the first citation they have is from 1982 and that used “scare-quotes” so it was a new sense then. But it’s thirty years old now, although that may still be too new to be universally accepted.

Whether it is the best choice in any particular sentence depends not only on the hearer’s view of its acceptability but also on the sentence itself. You haven’t quoted anything in the question.

OED has

Chiefly U.S. trans.

  1. Educ. To place (a child with a disability) in a school or class for those without special needs (for all or part of the school day); to educate in such an integrated environment. Also intr.

    1973 [implied in: School Managem. Aug.-Sept. 28/1 The new practice of mainstreaming recognizes that the individual child may have specific learning or behavior problems which can and should be dealt with only part of the time in an isolated class.].

  2. gen. To incorporate into the mainstream. Also without construction.

    1982 G. M. Dalgish Dict. Africanisms p. xiii, The editor has attempted to record the most well-known items [from the African languages]..in the belief that such items are most likely to become fully ‘mainstreamed’ into the English language.

share|improve this answer
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.