Is there a technical term describing words that can denote both a state (result) and an activity? For instance: composition (the activity of composing vs. the result, a composed piece), configuration (the act of changing a set of elements vs. the resulting tableau of elements)

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    Performative verb has already been assigned a conventional meaning, otherwise you could say that works because with something like If you smack me I'll give you a smack!, doing the action (verb) results in a "thing" (noun) with the same name, for that "class" of verbs. I don't know if it's a sub-category of polysemy, though. Mar 26, 2017 at 17:47
  • Kellogg's Sugar Smacks: youtube.com/watch?v=K8AE0y4WpWY
    – user83454
    Mar 28, 2017 at 23:01

1 Answer 1


Yes, these are called Deverbal Nouns. But be more broadly this is called Nominalisation.

Nominalisation is the linguistic term for using a verb, adjective or adverb as a noun. Sometimes this involves forming the word differently, or changing the way it interacts with other words. To use your examples:

  • Composition - comes from the verb 'compose'
  • Configuration - comes from the verb 'configure'

In both cases, the affix 'tion' has been added. However this isn't always the case for example: murder, change, use - the verb and the noun of each is formed the same way.

Deverbal nouns specifically are nouns which have none of the grammatical properties of verbs, despite being derived from verbs.

They are distinct from verbal nouns in that they always behave grammatically as nouns. They can be pluralised, take an adjective and followed by a prepositional phrase:

"The surprising configuration of the element gave us a lot to think about"

Just like a noun, it has a determiner "the" an adjective "surprising" and a prepositional phrase "of the element".

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