In a Last Week Tonight's segment on Ashley Madison, a married dating site, you can see John Oliver saying

“Life is short. Have an affair. That is the most morally dubious slogan since Toyota’s short-lived, ‘Feeling bored? Hit someone with your car!’ ”


If I am not wrong, "Toyota's short-lived" refers to the slogan here. That would mean short-lived is a nominalized adjective.

Do you still remember Tom's short-lived? (meaning of it depends on the context. It can be his short-lived hobby, short-lived endeavor, or short-lived job, etc)

Is such usage of short-lived common (like the word poor is common for undergoing nominalization)?

If short-lived here is not a nominalized adjective, then I have another question:

Should the comma before ‘Feeling bored? Hit someone with your car!’ be omitted?

  • Short-lived: adj. Living or lasting only a short time; ephemeral. It is quite common. thefreedictionary.com/short-lived. Short-lived refers to 'Feeling bored?' a slogan that, apparently, was not successful. No I would not use a coma because short-lived just refers to the expression that follows.
    – user66974
    Jul 30, 2015 at 6:23

2 Answers 2


"Lived" here means "lifed," or given a span of life, so it's really an "adjectified" noun.

Yes, the comma should be omitted, since it's a modifier of the quotation. The comma should be present if the phrasing were that of an appositive:

That is as morally dubious as Toyota’s short-lived slogan, "Feeling bored? Hit someone with your car!"

Be fair, though. This is a transcription of speech, and speech doesn't have commas.


That part of the phrase in quotes is a citation. Citations can have the same function in sentences as noun phrases do and can also appear as the Heads of their own noun phrases too:

  • "Would if I could" is an annoying phrase. (Citation as Subject)
  • Your quiet "don't" was much more effective than my aggressive "DON'T YOU DARE!". (Citations as heads of noun phrases)

The Original Poster's Question

... Toyota’s short-lived ‘*Feeling bored? Hit someone with your car!’

Short-lived is not the Head of a noun phrase here. It is an Attributive Modifier inside the larger noun phrase:

  • Toyota’s short-lived ‘Feeling bored? Hit someone with your car!’

The Head of this phrase is the citation 'Feeling ... car'. It has a genitive NP, Toyota's in Determiner function. And as described it has it's own Attributive Modifier short-lived. The Original Poster is right that the comma in the original example is not very helpful. This is precisely because it splits the adjective from the item that it's modifying.

[Note: The syntactic functions are capitalised here to distinguish them from word or phrase categories.]

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