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I hear the word architect used as a verb in the technical field and now more often in other industries and groups, for example:

We need to architect a better solution to the problem.

I am interested if this is considered "proper grammar", as I see this word being used more in published technical documents (not necessarily books, but corporate publications).

I can see how a conductor can conduct, a typist can type, but can a scientist "science"? A scientist might research, analyze, and so forth, as an architect might design, create, build, etc.

Merriam-Webster defines architect as a noun, however, I have been told that other dictionaries exist that define architect as both a noun and a verb — is there a credible reference or source that authoritatively answers this question?

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Be aware that different people might react differently to inventing complicated words in place of simpler ones. Some might see it as a sign of sophistication and of belonging to the right kind of people in the field. Others might not understand why you wouldn't just use the simple word (in this case, "find", or even "invent"), and think it must be just an ephemeral vogue word —especially people outside the field. [/obligatory comment] –  Cerberus Jan 13 '11 at 17:20
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On a personal note: I have increasingly heard and seen architect used as a verb and to me, this has never sounded or looked right and often appears in "corporatespeak". –  bn01 Jan 13 '11 at 17:25
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Thank you!! Incidentally, I do feel that Orwell did us a great favour in that he made us aware of the "dangers" of x-speak before the outbreak of commercial television. –  Cerberus Jan 13 '11 at 17:46
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In the words of Calvin: "Verbing weirds language." –  user3444 Jan 13 '11 at 17:59
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I'd put it this way: Today, practically no one objects to engineer as a verb, and practically no one approves of dentist as a verb. Architect as a verb is still at a fairly early stage in the transition from dentisting to engineering. –  Sven Yargs Jan 17 at 3:02

6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Traditionally "architect" is a noun only, but it is increasingly common to hear it used as a verb, though usually in business or technical situations where jargon is very common. Since the language is largely defined by its usage, and (as Robusto notes) nouns often become verbs and vice versa, it's hard to say that it's wrong - but many consider it poor style, and in formal writing (especially if intended for an audience unfamiliar with business-speak) it might be better to choose an alternative that conveys the required meeting - perhaps "design", or "build", or even "think of" or "solve" in the specific example you gave :-)

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"Architect" as a verb (and noun) is common in the IT industry where it carries a different meaning to "design" or "build." A "Software Architect" is a specialised job that goes beyond software design as it will incorporate all parts of the business process. Outside of the IT domain, I have never heard of a building architect "architecting" a house. –  dave Aug 7 '11 at 13:12
    
I second all points made by dave. –  narx Aug 7 '11 at 17:49
    
@dave - while it is common in the IT industry, I work in software myself and I don't really hear the verb usage by the people who actually do the 'architecting' - it's used by management or wannabe architects who want to sound authoritative. Real software architects always talk about 'designing' IMO –  tinyd Oct 18 '11 at 14:53
    
@tinyd - IMHO, "architect" and "design" are different things (with overlap) which are often confused by those who do not understand the difference. –  dave Oct 18 '11 at 23:14
    
@dave - That's a fair comment - I agree that there is a difference between designing a particular module of software and linking lots of these modules together into an overall architecture. But to come back to the original question, I never hear the verb 'architect' used (without a degree of irony, anyhow) to describe the latter activity by the people that actually do it. But maybe it's one of those usages that varies from company to company. –  tinyd Oct 19 '11 at 14:10

It is both a verb and a noun. Curiously, most English nouns can become verbs just by using them in that sense, and vice versa. "Gift" has become a verb lately.

I gifted him with a pen-and-pencil set.

Verbs also become nouns. In David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross the salesmen talk about going on a sit, meaning making a sales pitch in someone's living room.

So you can safely say

He was the head architect on that project

and

She architected a whole new genre of glass sculpture.

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Sorry, while I am mostly OK with increasingly pure positional grammar of English-as-we-use-it, I shall resist "to architect" 'till my dying breath. It's an attempt to mean "to design" while sounding more important. Pure marketspeak, also known as drivel. –  dmckee Jan 13 '11 at 17:56
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@dmckee: OK, just don't let me ever catch you "Googling" anything. Or "shuttering" a house. Or "penning" a document. The fact is, English is pragmatic, and when people have a need to turn verbs into nouns or nouns into verbs, they do so, and the results get recorded by dictionaries. –  Robusto Jan 13 '11 at 18:28
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@Robusto: Many instances of verbing provide a new word to replace a pre-exisiting phrase. I "google" rather than "search the web" on a regular basis. Using architect as a verb provides no such service to the language, though it does serve as a marker for a person who may well be full of shit. –  dmckee Jan 13 '11 at 18:57
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@Robusto: The verb "to pen" has been around since at least the time of Shakespeare ("google" for "it is excellently well penned"). Does "to shutter" a house mean to install shutters, or to close the existing ones? (It's not a verb I've ever heard used, but shutters are rare in the UK so that's perhaps not surprising!) In any case - the objection is not to turning nouns into verbs per se, but to doing so when the result sounds ugly and there is already a better alternative. Of course, this is 100% subjective! In any case, as a wise man once said, "Verbing nouns weirds language". –  psmears Jan 13 '11 at 20:22
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@dmckee: "to architect" doesn't necessarily have the same meanings as "to design" or "to invent" or any of its other synonyms. It's not clear to me that the word is 100% replaceable with another word. Design, for example, refers to lots of things, but in software "architecture" refers to only some parts of the design and making that architecture is what you do when you architect. So it's not a useless word, IMO, and not necessarily marketspeak or drivel. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jan 14 '11 at 16:10

Yes it's acceptable, but it is a somewhat fraught word because readers can interpret it two ways. Some readers will see your use as parochial and assume that you are an insider in the building or software industry. Others will take it as satirical and mocking of industry jargon and of pretentious speech in general.

So unless you are writing for an audience that's already settled on their interpretation of the word, use "designed."

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actually the word 'architect' should be used only as a noun.meaning of the word is 'a person whose job is to design buildings'and there are also two words formed by it, first is architectural and second is architecture. architecture:[noun] the study of designing and making buildings, architectural:[adj.] connected with the design of buildings

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Actually you are wrong in two respects. First, architect was appropriated (as a noun) in the computer sense at least thirty yours ago, and secondly it has, as others have said, been quite widely used as a verb. You are of course entitled not to use it in those extended ways, but you are no more entitled than anybody else to say how it "should" be used. –  Colin Fine Apr 24 at 16:14

I would invite anybody using the word “Architect” as a verb to visit the office of an RIBA registered Architectural practice and ask one of the partners if they would be able to “architect a new house”. See how many people in the room don’t either:

  • Look at you quizzically
  • Fall about laughing
  • Announce that “there is a tw@ in reception”
  • Ask you where your carer has got to
  • Send you out for some left-handed paint
  • Punch you in the face

I would like to think it is “all of the above”.

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Indeed, RIBA and similar bodies were complaining at least twenty five years ago that the word architect had been appropriated by the software industry (so that ads for "architects" were as likely to be for software system architects as for building designers). Unfortunately for them, language does what it does, and nobody can control it. –  Colin Fine Apr 24 at 16:16

'Architecting' is perhaps acceptable as slang for 'designing the architecture'. Where 'architecture' is structural design at the highest level in the domain of interest (e.g. buildings, ships, microchips). Increasingly though 'architecting' and 'architected' are being used to mean doing something other than design (e.g. architecting the business), what this thing is, isn't always entirely clear, but people using the word in such contexts are often adamant that they aren't doing design. Consequently one can only conclude that the slang word is often being mis-used by people who don't understand the meaning of 'architecture'.

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