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Is it possible to verb anything other than a noun?

Although slightly meta, I noticed that English SE has verbing as a tag, rather than verbing-nouns.

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I suspect there are some adjectives that can be made into a verb. Can't think of any, though. –  advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 2:04
    
And what is the definition of "verb" as a verb? Is it to make a non-verb into a verb? Because if so, then this all gets really shady. –  advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 2:06
    
@advs89: Because it's an autological word? –  Andrew Grimm Mar 8 '11 at 2:10
    
Well, because if you make an non-verb into a verb, then it is now a verb. So now it is no longer a non-verb... which makes the whole thing fall apart (it's a logical contradiction). My guess is that my original definition is faulty, but what is the correct definition? –  advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 5:26
    
@advs89: No more difficult than alchemy. It used to be lead, now it's gold. –  Andrew Grimm Mar 8 '11 at 5:31
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, you can for example verb an adjective.

Verbing weirds language.

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I note that this is from Calvin and Hobbes (ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/humor/calvin.html and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_(linguistics)#Humor). Though for some reason I misremembered it as "verbing weirds nouns" -- anyone remember if that's been used in a comic strip somewhere? –  John Bartholomew Mar 8 '11 at 2:08
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I’m not quite convinced by this. It’s a great quote, but I hear it as deliberately slightly pushing the boundaries of what sounds right — verbing comes quite naturally, weirds not so much. I’d be much more convinced by a less meta example! –  PLL Mar 8 '11 at 3:06
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+1: sure it's not quite as natural as "trending" or "verbing," but I'd say it still counts. –  advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 5:31
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@PLL 'weird' is a fairly common colloquial verb. E.g., the phrasal construction 'weird out' in "that weirds me out". –  Mark Beadles Jul 6 '12 at 12:34
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Garner's Modern American Usage has a nice discussion of "Adjectives as Verbs" under the heading Functional Variation. E. Garner warns that these transformations often have a trendy or jargonistic quality but adds,

There are exceptions (greening rooftops). And to copyeditors, it is natural to talk about lowercasing and uppercasing words.

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Is this possibly a case of verbing an adjective that's been nouned? –  Andrew Grimm Mar 8 '11 at 5:13
    
I think the problem with "verbing" is that it depends on which came first. It's not verbing if a word started out as a verb and was "adjectived (if you will)." So then it becomes the case of the chicken and the egg. Which came first: "to uppercase (verb)" or "uppercase (adjective)?" –  advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 5:34
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@AndrewGrimm: If I’m not mistaken, it’s actually verbing a noun that’s been adjectivised (I can’t bring myself to write adjectived), or even just directly verbing a good honest noun, since the roots of all these were the upper and lower cases in which the metal type was stored. –  PLL Jul 8 '12 at 10:47
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Several adjectives for colors have been verbed.

In addition to the recent use of greening (in the environmental sense), there's the yellowing of paper. We also brown foods, such as ground beef. Interestingly, we blacken foods; we don't black them. And we whiten clothes and teeth. Rounding out the colors, people have greying hair.

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I do not think that these examples are convincing without further proofs because color names are also used as nouns. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Mar 10 '11 at 2:22
    
@Tsuyoshi: I can't seem to think of any color names used as a noun. (Other than orange, or black and white people, but those seem to be relevant here.) Can you provide some examples? –  booch Mar 10 '11 at 2:35
    
I cannot, either. My point is that color names are not good examples of verbed adjectives. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Mar 10 '11 at 11:18
    
Out of the blue, it hit me, while I was sitting on the green? :) –  aedia λ Jun 17 '11 at 21:20
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