Is there any appropriate English terminology for changing the part of speech (of a word) without applying any modification?

This is a concept including verbing (where the verb verb means "to use a word that is not conventionally used as a verb, typically a noun, as a verb").

Korean has a term Yeongbyeonhwa (零變化, “zero-derivation”) for it, but I'd like to know the English one.

  • 1
    Note that zero-derivation does not necessarily change the part of speech of the word in question. For example, deriving a causative verb from a ‘normal’ verb by adding a zero-suffix (very common in English, as part of causative alternation) is a form of zero-derivation, but the resulting verb has the same part of speech as the input. I don’t know if that’s true of the Korean term as well. Mar 20, 2018 at 17:57
  • "Verbing weirds language": gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1993/01/25
    – izrik
    Mar 20, 2018 at 21:08
  • 'Conversion' is the term used for changing a word's syntactic category without any change of form, for example the creation of the verb "humble" from the adjective "humble".
    – BillJ
    Mar 21, 2018 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


The word is 'conversion'. The word was part of the required metalanguage for an English language class I undertook.

The OED gives the definition relevant to the usage as:

Grammar. The use of one part of speech as another.

  • Yes, that's the correct name for it.
    – BillJ
    Mar 20, 2018 at 15:29

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