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Does anybody else use 'gravity' as a verb besides people in mining and engineering?

Example: We have to move the tank up the hill so water can gravity to the flotation cells rather than needing to be pumped.

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I've never heard that usage - interesting! – Ben Reich May 30 '13 at 18:56
Other possibilities are "gravitate" and "gravity-flow" and "flow downhill". – MετάEd May 30 '13 at 19:01

OED has no entry for gravity as a verb. Dictionaries document usage, so it takes some time for them to catch up with a word's appearance, especially for a particular technical term.

Now that Google's Ngrams can analyse parts of speech, it's possible to see that gravity_VERB does appear in their database, although at a far lower incidence than gravitate. Reference Unfortunately they don't add citations to their findings, so it's not possible to verify their parsing.

Gravitate tends to be used with towards, and more figuratively than literally. People may gravitate towards a celebrity in a room, for example; it doesn't mean he has a brain the size of a planet.

In the cited example, while there may be a technical use of gravity as a verb, most readers will baulk.

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+1 for "gravitate". – Matt May 30 '13 at 19:06

Verbing nouns is a well-established practice in the English language, but some verbings are better accepted than others.

Sometimes the results are ridiculous—notably when verbs are minted from nouns which were formed from verbs in the first place. To say “Let’s conference” instead of “Let’s confer” . . . makes the speaker seem either ignorant or pretentious. . . . Using an elaborate verb when there is a far simpler alternative – such as “dialogue” for “talk” – has the same effect.

Another common reason for rejecting a verbed noun is that there's already a suitable verb form – in this case, gravitate. According to this Ngram, English writers prefer gravitate to verbed gravity by an order of magnitude. You're unlikely to see it outside of jargon or other idiosyncratic writing.

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Slightly OT, but I wonder whether 'verbing nouns' (which is, of course, itself verbing a noun!) is more prevalent in US usage than UK usage? – TrevorD May 30 '13 at 23:15

No, gravity is not a verb.

In that usage it would be better to say something like "...so that water will flow to the flotation cells under the force of gravity, rather than needing to be pumped."

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I am inclined along the same path of hesitation. In the example, gravity is still a noun, as it is the description or identification of a named process. The verb is 'can' which is to allow or to enable. – JustinC May 31 '13 at 6:10

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