As the title of a Forbes article, it has been drawn to my attention because of the use of birth as a verb. I think it should be give birth to or bear.

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    Collins would back up the author, although the usage is labeled as rare. Still, I can see why a headline writer would opt to use the verbal form – for headline writers, space is at a premium, and every omitted word has value.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 8:44
  • See The Give That Keeps On Gifting.
    – Robusto
    Jan 28, 2013 at 3:01

2 Answers 2


Birth has been in use as a transitive verb since at least 1906 with the meaning ‘give birth to; to give rise to’. The OED describes it as ‘chiefly dialect and US dialect’. Speakers of AmEng may be able to tell us whether its use is more widespread, but it is not common in BrEng.

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    This usage is not common in the U.S., either, although I'm not startled to see it used this way, especially in a headline. This Ngram shows it's quite rare, particularly in the context of childbirth.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 9:52
  • Yes, when it is used, it's probably used figuratively. Jan 27, 2013 at 9:54
  • "Birthed a baby" or "birthed a babe" is certainly to be found, but I likewise agree that it's rare. I would have classified it as "poetic" (which for practical purposes pretty much means "know what it means when you see it, but don't actually use it").
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 27, 2013 at 9:56

"Give rise to' would be a better phrase to use here. My guess is that a journalist/editor has thought 'birth' would grab people's attention and fill up the limited space they have for headlines.

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    I'm not sure I agree that "Give Rise to" would be better than "Birth". Give rise to implies something that happens over time, while birth (as a verb) implies someone has sprung on the scene more suddenly. It all depends on which mood the headline writer was hoping to set.
    – J.R.
    Jan 27, 2013 at 8:46
  • They did succeed at least in grabbing my attention.
    – Terry Li
    Jan 27, 2013 at 8:49
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    Did you mean give rise to or give birth to? Why would give rise to be a better fit here?
    – Terry Li
    Jan 27, 2013 at 8:52
  • "Give rise to' would be better wording because there's only one Steve Jobs in the world. "Give birth to' implies that it's a new thing/event. In the context of the original headline, it would be like creating another Steve Jobs in China. Jan 27, 2013 at 8:55
  • +1: it helps journalists/editors etc. to be a bit informal in what they write if it can get more eyeballs
    – KK.
    Jan 29, 2013 at 5:28

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