Is bolded a word?
I just bolded the important text in this sentence.
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I'd say in the context of computer editing, bold is certainly used as a verb (e.g. bold that paragraph, I bolded the important points), beyond that it depends on your criteria for what makes a word.
Wikitionary certainly cites this use as a word, and I trust them more than the OED for defintions of "new" words or meanings of words.
bold (third-person singular simple present bolds, present participle bolding, simple past and past participle bolded)
To make a selected portion of text have a typeface with thicker and heavier strokes.
I couldn't find "bolded" in any of several dictionaries, but I did find "boldfaced" used as a verb.
Bolded certainly registers on Ngram when you run a Google Books search for it. Here's the resulting Ngram chart for the years 1920–2019:
The frequency of the matches seems to have leveled off starting around the year 2007 after rising quite rapidly over the previous 25 years.
The earliest Google Books match for bolded in the sense of "set in boldface type" is from Tony Webster & Richard Champion, Microcomputer Software Buyer's Guide (1984) [combined snippets]:
- Displaying different Control Characters on the display screen. This feature allows the operator to check, for example, on what tabs are set, where hard carriage returns have been given (as opposed to automatic carrier returns), what text has been bolded, underlined and centered, and any special modes in which the system may be.
- Specifying by commands during text entry that text, when printed out, should be Underscored or Bolded. The bolded feature actually causes text to be struck more than once to create a dark, bold effect. Such an effect is used for emphasis in titles, headings etc.
By 1990, numerous instances show up in the search results. Here is a typical one from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Health Status of Vietnam Vets (January 1989) [combined snippets]:
The most popular alternative is bolded to indicate it should be used in the review of symptoms or PFC probes if the respondent simply says, "Yes" to the question without choosing one of the alternatives.
That same publication repeatedly uses bolded as an adjective, as here:
SX: Abbreviation for "Symptom" or "Symptoms." This is a signal to the interviewer to insert the bolded words from a symptom question into this question to refer to the symptom of interest.
Merriam-Webster Online still doesn't acknowledge that bold/bolded as a verb and bolded as an adjective have been in common use (especially in publishing) since the 1990s—or indeed that they exist at all. But eventually it will have to concede the obvious because this usage shows no signs of going away. Google Books search results for 2006 alone, for example, report 75 unique matches in published works.
So the answer to the question posed at the top of this question—'Is “bolded” a word?'—is unequivocally yes, bolded is definitely a word.
Update (May 8, 2023): As my original answer suggested, Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) has no entry for bold as a verb or bolded as an adjective. Likewise, it has no entry for boldface as a verb. Editions of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as recent as the fifth edition (2011) similarly have no entry or bold as a verb or bolded as an adjective. However AHDEL has included a mention of boldface as a verb since its first edition (1969), within the larger entry for the term boldface. Here is the entry from the first edition:
boldface n. Abbr. bf, bf., b.f., bld. Printing. Type cut with thick, heavy lines so as to give a conspicuous black impression. —adj. Abbr. bf, bf., b.f., bld. Printed in boldface. —tr.v. boldfaced, -facing, -faces. 1. To mark (copy) for printing in boldface. 2. To print or set in boldface.
Judging from the fact that boldface was being used as a verb in the printing business more than fifty years ago with enough frequency to earn inclusion in the first edition of AHDEL, and from the fact that bolded appears in print as a past-tense verb at least as early as 1984, I think it is highly likely that the verb bolded as it is used today emerged as a short form of the verb boldfaced and not as a short form (or variant) of the verb emboldened.
There is no entry in a dictionary for the verb "bold".
However, since there are new terms introduced to the language that have to do with actions involving latest technology, everyone will understand what the word bold means in this context (at least everyone who's computer literate). I was surprised when I first heard "I will sms you" or "Text me your decision", but such sentences have become part of everyday speech, especially among younger people. It would be natural to assume that the word bold can belong to this category of new uses of a word (since it has other meanings as an adjective).