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I'm interested in booster as a verb with regard to two meanings: (1) to get or give a booster shot and (2) to act as a promotor of something or somebody.

(1)
I haven't found booster as a verb in dictionaries (or boostered as an adjective), including the OED and Wiktionary (opposite extremes, in a way). I perceive a difference between "Eating healthy will boost your immune system" and "We boostered the mice three months after their first inoculation." I've heard Dr. Fauci say "get boosted" on TV (I was listening carefully), however:

“Preliminary data show that when you get a booster, for example the third shot of an mRNA, it raises the level of protection high enough that it then does do well against the omicron, which is another reason to encourage people who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated, but particularly those who are vaccinated to get boostered,” Fauci said. Tyler Morning Telegraph (2021)

The following are examples of booster as a verb from Google Books. Are some of these mistakes that should be boost? Does it depend on whether or not we're referring to an inoculation?

The 74 individuals in Group 3 were divided into 5 subgroups, each of which was boostered with one of the vaccines which had been given to Slovenians in Group 2. Journal of Hygiene, Epidemiology, Microbiogy and Immunology (1967) (Snippet View)

The animals were boostered after 1 month ... The Journal of Immunology (1975) (Snippet View)

...similarly, 50% of women in the 2011 survey said they drank to counter feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and shame and to booster their self-confidence. Jeffrey Roth et al.; Broadening the Base of Addiction Mutual Support Groups (2016)

They certainly do need protective discrimination to booster their capacity to absorb these developmental changes more effectively. R. Heredia and R. Srivastava; Tribal Identity and Minority Status (1994)

Why can't we continue the valid campaign to vaccinate (with the current vaccines) the vulnerable; consider one shot of any of the vaccines in the naturally immune (especially the vulnerable naturally immune) to booster their immunity, but only if desired... Joseph DeMay; Musings of a Christian Physician on the COVID-19 Pandemic (2021)

The shogun responded in part by seizing direct control of the small but strategic Japanese outpost on the northern island of Ezo (Hokkaido); he also ordered coastal domains throughout the archipelago to booster their shoreline defenses and fire on any foreign vessels that came into view. G. Leupp and D. Tao; The Tokugawa World (2022)

As part of the moral argument, regulatory agencies privilege single-race groups in order to booster their moral intention. Barbara Allen; Uneasy Alchemy (2003)

Google Scholar turns up several journal papers containing "boostered individuals"and "boostered children" (links not functioning when pasted).


(2)

booster (n.)

North American A keen promoter of a person, organization, or cause.
[as modifier] athletic booster clubs Lexico

boosterism (n.)

The activities and attitudes characteristic of boosters

Her article asserts that hometown boosterism keeps people from assessing the crime problem accurately. m-w

Booster / booster for—meaning to act as a promoter—is used as verb, as illustrated in the following examples. I found no dictionary definitions for this sense as well and include here examples where substituting the verb boost/boosted will not work.

The banner of an art with roots in native ground was taken up by the most powerful critics who boostered the New York School: Thomas B. Hess, Harold Rosenberg, and Clement Greenberg. Partisan Review, Vol. 55, p.17 (1988) (Snippet View)

In my view, mathematical models can simply provide us with a reasonably good organization of knowledge helping to booster for more complex knowledge. E. Trillas et al.; Combining Experimentation and Theory: (2012)

I think of Austin's masterpiece How to Do Things with Words, in which he boostered for the subtle distinctions in ordinary language, and of Joan Retallack's playful, Language-influenced book of poems with the same title. The Laurel Review, Vol. 41 (2007) (Snippet View)

By 1911, with a population of 7,000, Boley was the largest Black town in America...Boley's newspaper, the Boley Progress, also advertised and boostered for new migrants to come to Boley. Wendy Walters; Archives of the Black Atlantic (2013)

Degraded for our vapidity, boostered for our beauty, we remain the misunderstood brunt of critics and the misrepresented nostalgia of romanticists: “Long ago, in a strange country by the Western Sea, a golden sun cast its bright..." Michael Rochlin; Ancient L.A. and Other Essays (1999)

As they boostered Bozeman, they simultaneously praised all of the towns in Montana where they had previously resided. Patrick Jobes; Moving Nearer to Heaven (2000)

Today, he rails out at the crooks and criminals who cashed in on an industry he boostered. Danny Schechter; Plunder (2008)

He boostered America's ability and willingness to fight the 'evil empire' of the Soviet Union, claiming the moral superiority of the American vision against its communist adversary. Mark Gelernter; A History of American Architecture (2001)

So she boostered his rallies, mimeoed his antiloyalty-oath leaflets, contributed to his causes, his friends (all liberal—Sheridan described them as parlor pinkos) were her friends, his causes her causes. Jacqueline Briskin; Rich Friends (2015)

... and on the other, New York literary figures such as Park and Nathaniel P. Willis, who boostered magazine publishing in the new metropolis. Isabelle Lehuu; Carnival on the Page (2003)

Harnessing the creativity and forward thinking of such antibourgeois figures, the CPI became “a veritable magnet attracting reformers”—“intellectuals, muckrakers, socialists”—who would booster the war as the embodiment of the “Progressive spirit. J. Vincent and J. E. Vincent; The Health of the Sate (2017)


Update 1/4/2022, checking online news stories. Even though I hear "boosted" often in speech, boostered holds its own:

"But the change doesn't grapple effectively with the reality that the fully vaccinated and boostered and the unvaccinated are living in two different worlds.

[Boostered appears eight times in this editorial.]

Aaron Carroll; "The C.D.C. Has New Covid Guidelines. This is What It Got Wrong," editorial in The New York Times, Dec. 28, 2021

Boostered in headlines:

Joelle Goldstein; "Jimmy Fallon Reveals He Tested Positive for COVID: 'I Was Vaccinated and Boostered'"at people.com

Noel Chomyn; "Jordan Henderson and Alisson Becker Want You to Get Vaccinated and Boostered" at liverpooloffside

Bobby Burack; "NFL discussing COVID policy change for boostered up players" at foxnews

Florence Jenkins; "Omicron discovered for the first time in boostered patients" at thegermaneye

The search for Boostered turned up many news stories where boostered appeared, but wasn't in the headline.


Update 11/18/2022. Boostered is fairly common in news stories, especially titles, and is perhaps more commonly used by healthcare professionals. I think both forms will continue to be used. I searched online news stories today, and here are some of the items in which both boostered and boosted appear in the same story!

Noel Chomyn; "Jordan Henderson and Alisson Becker Want You to Get Vaccinated and Boostered"

Aradhana Aravindan; "Booster Shots Raise Shield For Elderly Threefold, Singapore Says"

Rong-Gong Lin II; "Should I change my holiday plans because of COVID-19 surge, Omicron? What experts say"

Mazwin Nik Anis and Martin Carvalho; "Covid-19: Senior citizens and those fully vaccinated with Sinovac must be boosted by March 1, says KJ"

Michael Martin; "What "Mild" Omicron Really Feels Like"

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 19:32
  • For (2), the common verb form is boost, not booster.
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 23:27

3 Answers 3

5

There are different ways of interpreting this question, which will lead to different answers to it.

Purely prescriptivist approach

Verb booster does not exist, because it does not appear in reputable dictionaries.

Purely descriptivist approach

Quite a few examples of such use of the word can be found (some of which are quoted in the question), including in professionally edited publications, so obviously the word is a part of the language.

Middle-of-the-road approach

While the examples of booster as a verb exist, this use is not well established, and one may wonder whether it is a good idea to emulate these examples, and so make the use better established, or treat it as something that it would be better to discourage.

Now, the first thing to notice is that the uncontroversial noun booster is derived from the verb boost. That verb is well established and its use is uncontroversial. Given that we have it, what reason is there to use booster as a verb? The answer is none, as long if it is used in the contexts in which boost could be used. Some of the examples in the question are like that. There is no reason to speak of boostering self-confidence/capacity/immunity/shoreline defenses/moral intention, when one could have spoken of boosting these things.

However, in the contexts that have to do with vaccinations, boost needs something like immunity as its object. One cannot say that a person has been boosted, if one means that the person's immunity has been boosted by a booster dose of a vaccine. We thus need a different verb if we want some term for such a person to be its object. Using booster as a verb is convenient for that purpose.

There is thus a good reason to embrace booster as a verb in the sense of administer a booster dose of a vaccine to somebody, but no good reasons to use it in the cases in which boost can be used.

(The use of booster as a verb may also be justified in the relatively rare cases in which its meaning is promote a cause in the manner typical of a booster, in the sense of the noun booster that is confined to the U.S., and probably has a somewhat old-fashioned ring even there.)

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  • I've added examples of to booster for something (to advocate for/promote). This probably dates from the days of "booster clubs."
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 17:35
  • Languages evolve ahead of dictionaries. Saying it is not in the dictionary is saying nothing in this case. What is interesting here is the logic of its development and its relationship to the existing verb to boost and how that works.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:06
  • Why can't the semantic range of acceptable DOs be increased? This happens in some cases (eg 'Starc bounced Malan'). Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:43
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth, in principle, the range could be increased; the problem in this case is that hearing that a person has been boosted would leave one wondering: boosted in what way?
    – jsw29
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 21:34
  • 1
    So long as we avoid jabbering. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 12:42
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Any noun such as booster can generally be made into a verb, known as verbing. Bake and baker do not count as they have been around for hundreds of years. Booster was hitherto not a verb.

Ergo, to booster is the verb and the past tense is boostered.

The verb is not in dictionaries yet. It it too new.

Reference: Dr. Fauci, who is about 99% right in his speech.

When you get a booster shot, it boosts your immune system.

The bare form of this new verb (booster) sounds funny but it would be right.

The clinic will booster the people waiting in line.

Here's the trick, though.

Generally, though, people revert to the noun to express this idea in the present tense: get a booster (shot).

The clinic will give booster shots to people waiting in line.

You get boostered when you get a booster shot, yes. And the jab boosts your immune system.

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  • @DjinTonic en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booster_club Yes, but not usually a verb. A booster club boosts participation. They don't "booster" it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 17:37
  • I've added examples of to booster for something (to advocate for/promote). This probably dates from the days of "booster clubs."
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 17:37
  • 1
    Verbing of nouns is far from being a totally productive feature. You don't 'bouncer' a batter at cricket, you 'bounce' them, using the existing verb in a new sense. Productivity tends to be idiosyncratic. Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:30
  • @EdwinAshworth But can you disprove what I say? Jabs and boosters are not cricket, last time I looked. What is interesting is the interplay between the two words, booster and boost, and how booster as a verb has now come into the lexicon. You can ride the wave or be swept out to sea with the riptide.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:31
  • 1
    booster is a noun that comes from the verb boost. baker is a noun that comes from the verb bake. Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 20:07
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It needs to be understood that, in the US, "booster", with regard to a vaccination, is short for "booster shot" -- "a supplementary dose of an immunizing agent administered as an injection" Webster. It is not generally used as a verb, and the choice of an informal verb form is up to the speaker.

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  • 1
    I agree that the speaker/writer has to make a choice; however, the verb being used, and it's appearing in headlines, as I've documented in an edit to my question today. There is a tradition of using the verb booster/boostered in the medical literature and this is one influence for those wanting a verb/past participle in the Covid era. The NYT editorial I cited was written by a doctor, which is probably why he used boostered eight times. I would think that when booster does appear in dictionaries as a verb, the regular past, boostered will appear, perhaps with boosted.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 14:42
  • @Hot Licks How about running for moderator?
    – Xanne
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 0:28

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