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Is (to) subclass a valid verb? It comes from this background: Inheritance (object-oriented programming). A class models something and to create a subclass means to extend this class.

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It should be noted that the verb would be (to) subclass, subclassing being its present participle. –  RegDwigнt Apr 21 '11 at 19:05
I don't think this question is clear, as it stands. To class something means to put it into one or another class (which might logically be a subclass of something else). Would subclassing something be to move it from the main class, or to extend the original class? More to the point, if an ordinary reader like me doesn't understand the word, and it's not in the dictionary, the answer to your question must be no (at least in ordinary English). –  TimLymington May 14 '11 at 16:07
@TimLymington, there is a feedback relationship between dictionaries and usage, but in the end dictionaries follow the language as used by speakers. As horatio mentions in a comment and as OP mentions, this is a question about usage in a particular linguistic community. It is a very large community, although much of its specialized terminology is not well known outside of the community. shipr points out that "to subclass" is widely used as a verb in that community. It is, therefore, a part of English--whether dictionaries have caught up with this usage or not. –  Mars May 31 at 22:52

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I have been subclassing for so long it had better be a verb.

Seriously, nouns can be easily verbed in English. We photocopy things, basketball players brick a shot, we table discussions. And on and on.

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In addition, this is computer jargon. Specialized fields can and do make new words or repurpose old ones when needed. –  horatio Apr 21 '11 at 19:51

To subclass became a verb when Bjarne Sjoustrup, the creator of C++, coined it. He being of worldwide reputation, and using the noun as a verb, it instantly caught on.

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This, to me, is the correct answer. It's widely used, so it's legitimate. –  Mars May 31 at 22:55

Both the New Oxford American Dictionary and Merriam-Webster list it only as a noun, and not as a verb. I've already heard it used as a verb in the domain of object-oriented programming, and it is clearly comprehensible, so you shouldn't feel too guilty about using it!

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Maybe it's not kosher, but at least it used widely used

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I think requiring a computer term to appear in Leviticus to be acceptable is asking a bit much. –  mgb Apr 21 '11 at 21:53

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