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I find it interesting that not only do British and American English speakers both use the noun 'ID card' as a verb in the context of (trying to be in a position of) purchasing age-restricted items, but abbreviate it differently:

British speakers:

"The bartender ID'd me"

American speakers:

"The bartender carded me"

Which do we prefer? Any other similar examples?

Personally I think 'to ID' makes more sense, since although in 'ID card' it's an acronym for 'identity', it easily transforms into 'to ID' -> 'to identify', which makes sense.

But then, I'm British!

Edit:

As @DavidM points out, American speakers say "I got ID'd" to mean "I was [literally] identified" - in a police line-up for instance. If a Briton says "I got ID'd", he more than likely means "I was asked to show some form of ID".

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  • We would typically say bouncer or guy at the door in America, not door guy.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 3:57
  • Sorry, I'll just remove that reference, as it's not the focus of sentence
    – OJFord
    Feb 23, 2014 at 4:10
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    Surely what the bartender does however is check your age through the card rather than identify who you are through the card?
    – virmaior
    Feb 23, 2014 at 4:21
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    @virmaior If that were the case, when I was 16 I could have brought my father's drivers license and drank freely. He has to check that the ID says that you are the same of-age person in the picture.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 12:32
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    @virmaior The dumbest part of this argument is that we both accept carded as the preferred terminology. We're arguing secondary usage which no English speaker would be confused by.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 15:41

4 Answers 4

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Unlike the other answerer,

I would say that in my experience as a use of AmE that Americans refer to the practice of having one's identification materials (whether driver's license or passport) checked for sufficient age or right to use services as carded. carded = someone has doubted the validity of one detail of who I am that is not identifying and requested proof relative to this. (they want my age, height, nationality)

Conversely, we use the verb ID'd to refer to the use of these papers for the sake of identification of the person in question. ID'd = someone now knows my identity. (they want my name, passport number, social security number)

Thus,

I got carded at the bar

I got carded at the cigar shop

But

I got ID'd by the witness as the murderer

I got ID'd by the check-in agent

I got ID'd by the government's cameras

Or at least that's how I've heard it used in the Midwest (IN, IL), West (CA), and East Coast (NY / NJ)

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  • What do you assume they are doing when they check the license? If they just checked the age, I could have a really successful fake ID business going. Not to mention the signs on the doors of drug stores that say "We ID" with regard to buying cigarettes.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 12:38
  • I just googled We I.D. and came up with tons of hits for signs. We Card is one major company that makes decals, but many others say We I.D. in an identical sense.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 12:52
  • @DavidM They are trying to confirm the age of the person they are looking at. This does involve trying to figure out if that person is the same as the one holding the card but ultimately means they want to know the age of the person -- not their identity. They don't care what your name is.
    – virmaior
    Feb 23, 2014 at 14:36
  • They don't care beyond a passing 45 seconds. But they care to know it's the same person. Identity is more than your name. Weak argument.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 15:09
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    I think you'd accept Anheuser-Busch as a reasonable authority on this usage even if their beer is nigh un-drinkable.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 15:17
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We use ID in America.

Actually, to say you were "carded" is a bit low class, IMO. If the bar is nice, they ID you. For real!

Carding is a fairly recent colloquialism, within the last 25 years or so. We always used to say ID.

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  • This does not match my experience. Plus, I'd rather you not call me “low class.” ;) Feb 23, 2014 at 20:46
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I've not come across 'carded' in London, at least. It doesn't mean it's not used, but 'ID'd' is synonymous to 'security checked' or 'age-verified'. As you point out, it gains homophonic points over 'carded' in its links to 'identified'. 'Carded' gains metaphorical points over 'ID'd', though. I wouldn't be surprised if it became more prevalent over here within 7 years at the outside.

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  • Neither have I, as I said in OP..
    – OJFord
    Feb 23, 2014 at 17:33
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This is actually incorrect. I'm an American English speaker and we say both carded and ID'd.

In the American sense:

I got carded is what underaged college students trying to buy beer say. With only slightly less frequency, we will also say I got ID'd.

In general, IDing is confirming identity for any variety of reasons. But, carding typically only refers to checking the driver's license.

This is a link to Anheuser-Busch's We I.D. program. You don't get much more American than A-B.

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  • Ah - right, I forgot about that use of 'IDing'. I was referring to checking ID for purchasing age restricted items, however. I shall edit accordingly.
    – OJFord
    Feb 23, 2014 at 3:51
  • @OllieFord We do actually say Id'd in the same sense as carded, though. Just the more popular slang is to say carded.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 3:53
  • @OllieFord I've edited accordingly, too.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 3:57
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    I take I got ID'd to mean something equivalent to I got made or they recognized who I was rather than they requested my identification material and used that to judge my age and suitability for drinks or smokes.
    – virmaior
    Feb 23, 2014 at 4:22
  • @vitmaior That is absolutely true. My original edit was to that effect. But, as the OP entirely put the question in terms of a bar bouncer. Yes, I've certainly heard people say ID'd, even though carded is the preferred slang.
    – David M
    Feb 23, 2014 at 12:30

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