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We're making a website in which users can mark some objects as objects they like. Since we're not native English speakers here, a dispute evolved around what's the correct way to call this user-object relationship in the past tense: favored or favorited. For example, should it be Jack favored Jill's video or Jack favorited Jill's video?

From googling, I suspect both forms are correct or at least commonly acceptable, but I'm wondering if one of them is more correct, if there's a slight semantic difference I'm missing or if you'd think one is more proper where the other is more colloquial.

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    Maybe "Jack added Jill's video to his favorites," is better.
    – jeremy
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 7:51
  • Jack preferred Jill's video.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 0:06

3 Answers 3

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You should use the verb favourite and not favour. Favour means show an approval or preference for, while favourite means record to enable quick access. It is true that you favourite a video on a website if you like it, but the sense you want to convey here is not that you like the video but that you mark the video in some way. Of course, the past tense of favourite is favourited.

See also:

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As Jasper Loy pointed out in the other answer, favorite/favourite has entered into the vocabulary as a verb in British English and even been recognized by the OOD, but I thought I'd provide the American perspective:

Favorite is traditionally a noun or adjective. Although its use as a verb would certainly be understood, its use seems to be limited to certain websites (e.g. Twitter) and it would sound "wrong" to some ears. It does not appear in either M-W or dictionary.com at present.

Additionally, this NGram shows that while "favorite" may be a legitimate verb in some circles, its past tense has not found its way into the corpus.

American usage tends to prefer alternative constructions when it comes to UI design, such as "bookmark", "star" or the wordier "Add to Favorites".

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  • It's worth noting that the Ngram you linked to only goes until the year 2000. (Google Ngrams only goes to 2008, and there are still zero hits up through that year.) Also, as a matter of opinion, I don't find anything less awkward about using the word star as a verb in that context than the word favorite.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 9:36
  • A minor point: favourite has not yet entered the Oxford English Dictionary (OED, £) as a verb, only a noun and adjective. Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO, free) is different dictionary.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 13:10
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    [email protected]. - Good point. It is, admittedly, a matter of opinion. I had never heard 'favorited' used before this question, personally, so it feels weird to me.
    – Lynn
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 15:44
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I realized the last answers to this question were from 2013. It is now 10 years later and I figured the answers were due some update.

According to my scouring, this is how it now stands in terms of the recognition of favorite/favourite as a verb by the major dictionaries available online:

Listed:

Not Listed:

In conclusion, while some dictionaries do acknowledge it, favorite is overwhelmingly not accepted as a verb by the major dictionaries. And when comparing its usage to favorite, according to Google Trends, clearly it is mostly being used as a noun or adjective.

However, it is good to note that dictionaries are not language. The spoken language will often included various terms that might never even be added to a dictionary. Favorite as a verb is used as much if not more than many accepted and well-known words and verbs, such as anthropomorphized, gesticulated, and scoured (according to Google Trends data from Jan. 2009 to Jul. 2023).

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  • Hello, Akaisteph7. I'd say that 'not accepted' should be softened to 'not listed'. Even the venerable OED says [paraphrasing] 'non-inclusion in this dictionary should not be taken as proof that a word does not actually exist.' And while Wiktionary has the greatest number of headwords (>711 000) of any dictionary of English, it was claimed that the size of the lexicon had exceeded 1 000 000 quite a number of years ago. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 11:03

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