Some people use 'addicting game' and others use 'addictive drugs' - What's the proper usage?

  • BTW, I haven't heard the word 'addicting' so much. Infact, I heard it for first time this week. Guess it is rare or is very new. – mixdev Apr 10 '11 at 17:43
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    I sometimes hear people use addicting as an adjective – sooprise Apr 13 '11 at 15:49

Addictive is an adjective meaning something is addictive.

Addicting is a verb — meaning to do something to become addicted. "I am addicting myself to caffeine by drinking so many espressos".

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    Should add - addicting is often used for addictive in AM. But most people would say it isn't a word. The verb use is rare - I had to look it up to check! – mgb Apr 10 '11 at 6:30
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    This definition of addictive seems rather circular. – RedGrittyBrick Apr 10 '11 at 9:42
  • yes but the OP was asking about the difference between the two forms - I assumed they knew what addictive meant. – mgb Apr 10 '11 at 14:29

The meanings reported by the NOAD for addictive are:

  • (of a substance, thing, or activity) causing or likely to cause someone to become addicted to it
  • of, relating to, or susceptible to being or becoming addicted to something

Addicting is, as the dictionary reports, the informal equivalent of addictive.
Both addictive and addicting are correct; only the context where the word is used changes.

Addict is a noun that means "a person who is addicted to a particular substance, typically an illegal drug." Its etymology is early 20th century, from the obsolete verb addict, which was a back-formation from addicted.

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    I don't know about you, but it seems to me that I have only started hearing 'addicting' relatively recently. Before, it was always 'addictive'. I am purely speculating here, but as I am from England, is this perhaps an Americanism that has made its way back across the pond? – Karl Apr 10 '11 at 6:33
  • @Karl What I wrote here is reported by the OED too. – kiamlaluno Apr 10 '11 at 10:38
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    @Karl: I am also from England, and have never come across "addicting" for "addictive". If it's used that way, it's very rare :) – psmears Apr 10 '11 at 11:13
  • @Karl @psmears - it may be an Americanism then as I've heard it quite a bit. Doing some google counts as a really rough test with phrases like "It's addicting/addictive", "It's so addicting/addictive", and "It is addicting/addictive", addictive certainly wins out, but in some cases, it's only 2:1. – Dusty Apr 13 '11 at 18:00
  • I can remember hearing "addicting" as an adjective in grade school here in the US some 25-30 years ago. It bothered me then but I've gotten used to it over the years and have even caught myself using it a time or two. – Joel Anair Oct 15 '14 at 20:30

'Addicting' has only started to become noticeable in recent years, and I only ever see it in relation to games. Usage as a verb is apparently valid although it does look and sound very wrong!


As it is associated with gaming I suggest that the use of addicting is incorrect, probably introduced by children who haven't learnt enough yet, because they spend too much time playing video games and not enough time learning to speak.

The suffix determines the meaning of the word and in this case Martin Becket is without a shadow of a doubt correct.

  • Welcome to EL&U. What you say is perfectly correct, and usefully expands slightly on @Martin Becket's answer. But even you acknowledge that his is 'correct', so perhaps it would have been better to add your input as a Comment to that. – FumbleFingers May 20 '11 at 14:51
  • @FumbleFingers He wouldn't be able to do that until he's got 50 rep. – Kit Z. Fox May 26 '11 at 19:34
  • @Kit: Thanks for pointing that out. Sorry for being obtuse, t9b! – FumbleFingers May 26 '11 at 19:43

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