What to do when you’ve been ‘verbed’

The process by which a noun becomes a verb is part of the language’s evolution, but sometimes the resulting word just sounds silly—and better options often exist already.

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“Send me a detailed outline and I’ll PowerPoint it for you.” Oh, the humanity.

Verbing, verbification, or denominalization is the process of turning nouns into verbs. It’s a perfectly natural process. As linguist Steven Pinker says, “Easy conversion of nouns to verbs has been part of English grammar for centuries; it is one of the processes that make English English.”

Today, we all Google, text, friend, blog, and bookmark. Verbing is how language evolves, but sometimes the results are ridiculous—particularly when verbs are created from nouns that were verbs in the first place, or when there is a stronger, more precise verb available.

The following examples of verbing make my head ache:

Conversate

I have no idea where conversate came from, but I have seen it used in a few corporate emails. Has the verb converse been forgotten?

Questionable: Maybe we should try to conversate with Bob instead of sending an email.
Better: Maybe we should try to converse with Bob instead of sending an email.

Conference

Similar to conversate, the original verb form is confer.

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