Some English nouns are identical to their verbs (and their adjectives) both in spelling and pronunciation, for example:

"This is fake"; "to fake"; "this is a fake"

"To tear"; "a tear"

"To parody"; "a parody"

"A misfire"; "to misfire"

There are some examples where the (disyllabic) noun is spelt exactly like its verb but the noun is pronounced with the opposite stress (at least, in the standard accents which I hear day-to-day in the UK), for example:

"An escort"; "to escort"

"My recall of the event is faulty"; "I cannot recall what happened"

"To repeat"; "a repeat" (this last one is a bit weak since people use either stress pattern in different contexts)

This phenomenon is observed with some verb-adjective pairs too:

"To perfect"; "this is perfect"

In all three cases, I would be interested in:

  • The corresponding formal linguistic term (if there is one)
  • Examples! Although I know there are plenty more than I've shown here, they elude me. What's worse is that there's a fair few I've thought of but can no longer recall.

Bonus: are there any examples of noun-adjective pairs that are pronounced with opposite stress?


1 Answer 1


These are called initial-stress-derived nouns. As Wikipedia explains:

Initial-stress derivation is a phonological process in English that moves stress to the first syllable of verbs when they are used as nouns or adjectives. (This is an example of a suprafix.) This process can be found in the case of several dozen verb-noun and verb-adjective pairs and is gradually becoming more standardized in some English dialects, but it is not present in all. The list of affected words differs from area to area, and often depends on whether a word is used metaphorically or not. At least 170 verb-noun or verb-adjective pairs exist.

Wikipedia gives a long list.

  • Great. This perfectly answers my main question. Do you know what it's called where, e.g. with "to parody, a parody", the verb is identical to the noun in both spelling and pronunciation?
    – FShrike
    Jul 30 at 17:47
  • 2
    @FShrike Those are "bare nominalizations" or "zero-derived deverbal nouns." See this dissertation by Cetnarowska.
    – alphabet
    Jul 30 at 17:50

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