Many words which can act as a noun and a verb pronounce differently in the different parts of speech. As a verb, the stress in on the second syllable, while as a noun, the first, such as INcrease (noun) vs inCREASE (verb). However, purchase always has the stress on the first syllable.

English has many exceptions.

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    That's indeed a common pattern, but it isn't universal. Just a bunch of words that followed a rule that was in vogue somewhere for some time, but isn't any more, survived by hundreds of examples, as well as hundreds of others it never influenced. Nov 22, 2021 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


There are examples of the word with its second syllable stressed. These two are from c.1380 and c.1420.

Chaucer: Canterbury Tales. Prologue:

With grene trees shadwed was his place.
He koude bettre than his lord purchace.

The Castle of Perseverance:

Have here, Mankynd, a thousend marke.
I, Coveytyse, have thee this gote.
Thou mayst purchase therwyth bothe ponde and parke

We are losing the distinction you mention between nouns and verbs.

proTESTers have become PROtesters who PROtest against things.
Goods are regularly EXported, rather than exPORTed.
ATT-ribute is replacing At-TRIB-ute
CONflict is ousting ConFLICT
EXport, IMport and TRANSport are supplanting exPORT and imPORT and transPORT, but we do still dePORT people.
Only surveyors surVEY: everyone else seems to SURvey.

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