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Is 'suiciding' a valid word by itself? I have very rarely come across suicide being used in this form. Mostly, you see it being used with the prefix 'commit' as in 'committing suicide' rather than 'suiciding'. (The dictionary editor flags the words 'suiciding' and 'suicided' in red anyway!) I want to know if it is valid but very rarely used, or if it is wrong altogether.

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  • I've seen suicided more and more frequently, but never suiciding. – anongoodnurse Mar 24 '14 at 5:21
  • Sure, the gerund noun would be fine. Committing suicide associates the term with criminal expressions like committing crimes. Suiciding is a better word. – Lambie Jul 2 '20 at 15:39
  • This expression is often used to indicate that a murder was made to look like a suicide, as in the camp guards would often pick up the troublemakers and put them into solitary, suiciding the worst ones later when it was more convenient. – Global Charm Jul 2 '20 at 19:03
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The reason the word is not often found as a verb, is that the -cide in suicide, like patricide, matricide, infanticide, fratricide, etc, is not a verb to start with, but a noun derived from a verb. Verbing does not seem to make a lot of sense.

etymonline says the following for -cide:

word-forming element meaning "killer," from French -cide, from Latin -cida "cutter, killer, slayer," from -cidere, comb. form of caedere "to strike down, chop, beat, hew, fell, slay," from PIE *kae-id-, from root *(s)k(h)ai- "to strike" (Pokorny, not in Watkins; cf. Sanskrit skhidati "beats, tears," Lithuanian kaisti "shave," German heien "beat"). For Latin vowel change, see acquisition. The element also can represent "killing," from French -cide, from Latin -cidium "a cutting, a killing.

If it is understood that -cide means killing or killer, it is not strange that it is not normally used as a verb.

However, users of English have a tendency of verbing their nouns, even if that may not go down well with many other speakers.

In this case, the verbing of suicide would be similar to verbing "killer" as "I killered you" or possibly "a killing" as "I killinged you".

It certainly explains WS2's reaction, and honestly, I would use it either. Since dictionaries record how language is used, and since (sadly?) enough people have no scruples about "killering", it has become an established (if marginally) verb, at least according to Merriam-Webster.

That a verb is in a dictionary does not mean you are obliged to use it though! :)

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  • I agree. It's a verb because it's a verb. Not because it is especially useful. A line from NBC's 30 Rock: "Stop patriciding!!!!" Grammatical, but odd enough to be funny! – David M Mar 24 '14 at 13:49
  • Think about this: committed [murder, a felony, a robbery] implies a crime. That is why commit suicide is not great and the verb suicide is fine. People who kill themselves are not criminals...The Catholic Church I guess used to see this as a sin. – Lambie Jul 2 '20 at 15:39
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Having been one who made an early caustic comment on this matter, and notwithstanding @oerkelens well articulated and informed answer, above; I feel bound to mention that the OED points to a long tradition of 'suicide' having been used as a verb, dating from 1840. See below, including the gruesome ironic twist in the second section. Etymology: < suicide n.2 Compare French se suicider. Thesaurus »

  1. intr. and refl. To commit suicide.

1840 C. J. Lever Charles O'Malley xxxii, in Dublin Univ. Mag. Sept. 354/2 Here was I enacting Romeo for three mortal days.., soliloquising, half-suiciding.

1847 J. W. Carlyle Lett. & Mem. (1883) II. 18 The expediency..of suiciding myself is no longer a question with me.

  1. trans. (euphemistically) To do to death.

1876 Spectator 12 Aug. 997 in N. & Q., As the Divan cannot pass over the next heir..and as it is difficult to suicide him [etc.].

1898 Daily News 17 Oct. 4/5 The actual forger was, to use a convenient piece of French slang, ‘suicided’ in gaol.

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  • Current usage past 1900 . . . not so much. ;-) – David M Mar 24 '14 at 15:12
  • The examples where one suicides oneself are pleonastic anyway. I still don't feel like using it :P – oerkelens Mar 24 '14 at 17:43
  • It is used by specialists. I'll pass on saying which one. – Lambie Jul 2 '20 at 15:35
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According to Merriam-Webster suiciding is a verb, as is suicided.

The following NGRAM should show the relative usage of it as a verb. (Extremely low!)

Click to enlarge:

enter image description here

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  • Thanks! So it is valid, just not used frequently ? – Anurag Mishra Mar 24 '14 at 6:18
  • @AnyragMishra That is correct. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 6:20
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    "Suicided" comes last after "committed suicide","killed him/herself", and "took his/her own life". For the "attempted to" phrases Google Ngram finds no instances at all of "attempted to suicide". – Neil W Mar 24 '14 at 7:02
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    Just don't expect me, and millions like me, to use it as a verb. – WS2 Mar 24 '14 at 7:02
  • @WS2 your scathing comment makes me wish to suicide!!!! Yeah, I can't endorse it either. – David M Mar 24 '14 at 13:47
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Suicided as it is used today is a relatively new word to the English language. What it means is that someone was bullied to the point that they took their own life. Example: "Aaron Swartz was suicided by the U.S. Department of Justice."

"After Swartz's death, the prosecution has come under scrutiny and not only from his family and supporters. MIT's president appointed a professor to lead an investigation into the school's role in Swartz's case and several lawmakers are demanding answers from the Department of Justice on its handling of the case." http://mashable.com/2013/02/05/aaron-swartz-girlfriend-why-he-died/

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