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I read the definition of the word hurl in some dictionaries: Collins English Dictionary says it can be used as a noun in British English meaning "4. the act or an instance of hurling". However, neither Oxford Living Dictionaries, nor the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Thesaurus list this sense of the word.

For example, is "hurl" OK in the following?

The hurl of the brick through the window sprang us all.

Is it alright to use hurl as a noun in British English, and if so, how commonplace is it?

  • What meaning are you asking about? (There are several that exist.) Also, links to the dictionaries you checked would be helpful. – Laurel Jan 29 '18 at 15:19
  • books.google.com/ngrams/… – Jim Jan 29 '18 at 15:25
  • For example, can I say "the hurl of the brick through the window sprang us all"? – Nostradamus Jan 29 '18 at 16:27
  • ... No, totally unidiomatic. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 29 '18 at 16:28
  • @Nostradamus That sentence doesn’t even make sense. What is ‘spring’ supposed to mean? “The brick being hurled through the window made us all jump” is idiomatic, but I can’t tell if it means the same thing as what you wanted your example to mean. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 29 '18 at 16:44
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There is great flexibility allowed in English for speakers to use nouns, verbs, and adjectives almost interchangeably. You should not do so if a different word derived from the same root word already exists as the part of speech you want.

If not, then you may use nouns as verbs, noting the conjugation of any new verbs you invent is always regular. For example, that is how we ended up with the verb 'to google' derived from the proper noun 'Google'.

Nouns and adjectives are freely interchangeable provided there are not two different words already available for the different functions.

Verb participles (the -ing and -ed forms if the verb is regular) are always available as adjectives. Less commonly used is the bare verb. Thus, if they are adjectives they may also be used as nouns as well.

That is the theory of what is allowed, but I would urge caution if you are not a native speaker. Native speakers do these types of things all the time - but they know when what they are doing sounds natural.

If you are not a native speaker you should certainly check a dictionary carefully before attempting this; make sure there is no related word that already exists to serve the purpose you need. Even then, it would be wise to wait until you have enough experience to know something will sound natural.

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    Do you have anything specific to say about "hurl" used as a noun? Right now you vaguely explain conversion, but none of what you said answers the question here as the OP has already consulted dictionaries. – Laurel Jan 29 '18 at 18:16
  • I have already posted two specific comments (above the answer) for 'hurl' being used as a noun. Since posting those I checked at thesaurus.com for possible alternatives. The only one that comes close is 'heave' which I expect would also be used much more frequently as a verb than a noun. – Ross Murray Jan 29 '18 at 18:26
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    Please edit the information from your comments into your answer. Comments should be used "to ask for more information or suggest improvements". – Laurel Jan 29 '18 at 18:33
  • Are you able to open an offline discussion about that? – Ross Murray Jan 29 '18 at 18:48
  • I have no idea what you mean by "offline discussion". If you mean meta, ask and drop me a link. If you mean chat, you can create a room for us (I don't usually chat, but I'll figure it out). – Laurel Jan 29 '18 at 18:58
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You could use it in reference to the Irish sport of hurling. The 'camàn', or rather the stick with which one plays, is usually referred to as a hurley, or more commonly, a hurl.

Not relevant to the context of your provided sentence, though.

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Yes, it’s fine, but not common.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines hurl (noun) as

  1. The action or an act of hurling; a forcible or violent cast or throw.

A similar use is the word toss, which is used as both a noun and verb; toss in either case is used more frequently than hurl. As shown by the definition of hurl the related words throw and cast can also be used as nouns; but such usage is not common in everyday English.

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