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Last month, we started a series: Nouns gone bad … and this month, we added: Nouns gone bad … sequeled.

Remember, nouns gone bad are those words that originated as nouns and are now being used, with some regularity, as verbs.

We have some new entries to our list of nouns gone bad:

  • Clorox: we Cloroxed our drains to ward off the summer bugs.
  • journal: Jonathan was journaling the other day.
  • board: she (snow)boarded on her last vacation.
  • game. as in the following headline:

“Can Open Government Be Gamed?”

gamed

(click here for the story)

Have more examples? Please send them to us (after checking out our previous posts).

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Today, by a news item about some celebrity being “outed,” we were reminded that not only nouns can be turned into verbs … so can adverbs

Therefore, we have the opportunity to introduce the third in our sequence: “badverbs.”

Per the Urban Dictionary, “outed” has a few definitions, the most common of which has to do with disclosure of the fact that someone is gay. However, the terms “outing” and “outed” have become mainstream words for disclosing information other than homosexuality, about individuals — and organizations. Plus, it can mean just being excluded.

A few years ago, there was a lot of press around the revelation that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. She was “outed.” Earlier this month, we read an article about Judge Sonia Sotomayor being “financially outed.” Then, there are frequently articles about the “outing” of political and religious views, among people who are heterosexual. So, the concept is expanding and evolving.

What other adverbs are badverbs? We discovered a couple and thought we’d share them with you:

  • forward: did you forward that email to anyone else?
  • should: we make it a practice not to should on anyone.

As we were researching for this blog post, we realized that there is likely yet another category we should explore … “badjectives.” However, when we started on this quest, we found that most of the adjectives for this group would come to this list by having ” …ize” added to them. Now, that is a-whole-nother subject. Stay tuned.

Be sure to see our related posts:

Sources: Urban Dictionary, dictionary.com, Wikipedia

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Given several untimely celebrity deaths of-late, and the content of our yesterday’s blog post on the multiple definitions of words, this post is eerily related.

We saw this People Magazine news headline today, and it just reinforced the fact that our English language is complex. Many words have many meanings and perceptions can frequently transport us among those meanings …

“Quincy Jones Tears Up When Hearing Michael’s Music”

(click here for the real story)

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

quincy jones tears up

We are truly not trying to be irreverent here … let’s just take a look at an interesting four-letter word: tear.

1. tear.  noun. pronounced [teer]

  • a drop of the saline, watery fluid continually secreted by the lacrimal glands between the surface of the eye and the eyelid, serving to moisten and lubricate these parts and keep them clear of foreign particles.
  • this fluid appearing in or flowing from the eye as the result of emotion, esp. grief.
  • something resembling or suggesting a tear, as a drop of a liquid or a tearlike mass of a solid substance, esp. having a spherical or globular shape at one end and tapering to a point at the other.
  • Glassmaking. a decorative air bubble enclosed in a glass vessel; air bell.
  • tears, grief; sorrow.

tear. verb (used without object)

  • to fill up and overflow with tears, as the eyes.

tear. Idiom

  • in tears

2. tear. verb (used with object). pronounced [tair]

  • to pull apart or in pieces by force, esp. so as to leave ragged or irregular edges.
  • to pull or snatch violently; wrench away with force: to tear wrappings from a package; to tear a book from someone’s hands. 
  • to distress greatly: anguish that tears the heart.
  • to divide or disrupt: a country torn by civil war. 
  • to wound or injure by or as if by rending; lacerate.
  • to produce or effect by rending: to tear a hole in one’s coat. 
  • to remove by force or effort: to be unable to tear oneself from a place. 

tear. verb (used without object)

  • to become torn.
  • to make a tear or rent.
  • to move or behave with force, violent haste, or energy: The wind tore through the trees; cars tearing up and down the highway; I was tearing around all afternoon trying to find sandals for the beach. 

tear. noun the act of tearing.

  • a rent or fissure.
  • a rage or passion; violent flurry or outburst.
  • Informal. a spree.

tear. Verb phrases: tear at, tear down, tear into, tear off, tear up

tear. Idioms: tear it, tear one’s hair, tear one’s hair out

More coincidence …

Rip is a synonym for tear [tair], as in to break, split, or shred. And, R.I.P., as you likely know, stands for Rest In Peace, which is what we wish for all who have met their mortality.

Source: dictionary.com

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A few weeks ago, we were copied on an email that had this amusing passage:

“You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is “up.”

up

It’s easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken [sic] in the morning, why do we wake up? At a meeting, why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up and why are the officers up for election and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?

We call up our friends. And we use it to brighten up a room, polish up the silver; we warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and some guys fix up the old car …  At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite, and think up excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special.

And this up is confusing: A drain must be opened up because it is stopped up. We open up a store in the morning but we close it up at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed up about up! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look the word up in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up almost 1/4th of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions. If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don’t give up, you may wind up with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding up. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing up

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things up.  When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry up. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up, for now my time is up, so … it is time to shut up! Oh … one more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U-P.”

As comical as this is, we were curious about the claim re: up, “perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word.” For years, we have been under the impression that, in the English language, the word (regardless of the number of letters in the word) with the most definitions is “run.” So, we went digging around …

Here’s what we found out, per the Oxford English Dictionary, about words with the most definitions … the top ten:

  1. set (464 definitions)
  2. run (396 definitions)
  3. go (368 definitions)
  4. take (343 definitions)
  5. stand (334 definitions)
  6. get (289 definitions)
  7. turn (288 definitions)
  8. put (268 definitions)
  9. fall (264 definitions)
  10. strike (250 definitions)

Now we have learned that the word “up” doesn’t even make the top ten, nor does it come close to the two-letter word “go,” which graces the list at position three. However, we also learned that our impression about the word “run” was wrong. Can we even say we were close, being 68 definitions behind the number-one ranked word “set“?

Who really cares? Well, besides those of us who have obsessions with words, grammar, etc., many English language learners care because they want to learn to use our language correctly … bless their hearts. If you are a native English speaker, it’s likely difficult for you to imagine yourself making your way through a language that has almost 500 definitions for a single word, much less navigating its complex set of rules of grammar and usage. Wow!

Here’s one little three-letter versatile powerhouse … Set can be a verb, a noun, an adjective, or an interjection … it can be used with or without an object, and it is the mainstay of many phrases, such as: set about, set against, set ahead, set apart, set aside, set back, set by, set down, set forth, set in, set off, set on, set out, set to, and set up. Set also appears in several idioms, including set forward, set one’s face against, set store by, and get set! (definitions of which you can find at dictionary.com).

We will not list all of the definitions for set, rather, we choose to leave you with this … we’re off to set the table for dinner but we don’t need to set a fire because the 105 degree heat in Austin today set another record. We just watched a set or two of tennis on the TV set before writing this post to set the record straight. We discussed a set of words in our blog after we set the timer on the sprinkler, both of which set our mind at ease. The date is set for our next party at which we hope to set a good example of holiday entertaining. We must set down the pen to type, but we no longer need to set type to print our articles. That beautiful ring we saw the other day is set with gorgeous stones, but it would set us back too much to afford it. We didn’t fall on the stage set, however, once the bone was broken, the doctor had to set it for it to heal properly. Now, having set our minds to it, we’re now going for the set of golf clubs and hit the links … before we set ourselves down and watch the sun set

All set?

 

set

Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, dictionary.com

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A reader writes:

“Using ensure and assure interchangeably bothers me.”

ensure

Maybe using assure upsets the stomach?

Seriously, though, it bothers us, too. Plus, there’s the related word insure. So, let’s explore …

Many thesauri list these as synonyms for each other, so that helps to confuse us further … In general, to assure is to lend confidence, to ensure is to confirm, and to insure is to indemnify (as with an insurance policy) – and insure may have legal implications.

As per the AP Stylebook: Use ensure to mean guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. Use insure for references to insurance: The policy insures his life.

Another source adds: Assure most commonly means “to remove doubt about, to guarantee, to set one’s mind at rest.” It is a verbal statement of certainty.

YourDictionary.com presents helpful tips:

To help you remember when to use each word, keep the following three hints in mind:

  1. You assure a person.
  2. You insure your car.
  3. You ensure everything else.

assure. verb (used with object), -sured, -sur⋅ing.

  • to declare earnestly to; inform or tell positively; state with confidence to: She assured us that everything would turn out all right. 
  • to cause to know surely; reassure: He assured himself that no one was left on the bus. 
  • to pledge or promise; give surety of; guarantee: He was assured a job in the spring. 
  • to make (a future event) sure: This contract assures the company’s profit this month. 
  • to secure; render safe or stable: to assure a person’s position. 
  • to give confidence to; encourage.
  • Chiefly British. to insure, as against loss.

ensure. verb (used with object), -sured, -sur⋅ing.

  • to secure or guarantee: This letter will ensure you a hearing. 
  • to make sure or certain: measures to ensure the success of an undertaking. 
  • to make secure or safe, as from harm.

insure. verb (used with object)

  • to guarantee against loss or harm.
  • to secure indemnity to or on, in case of loss, damage, or death.
  • to issue or procure an insurance policy on or for.
  • see ensure (defs. 1–3). 

insure. verb (used without object)

  • to issue or procure an insurance policy.

Sources: dictionary.com, e Learn English language, APStylebook, YourDictionary.com

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The Weekly Skinny ran a health headline which reads:

“Tapeworm cases from eating raw fish way up”

(click here for the real story)

Yes, we agree, “ewwwww!”

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

eating way up

However, take a look at the grammar … what if one were to eat “way down” instead of “way up”? Would it make a difference?

And, what are tapeworm cases, anyway?

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

tapeworm cases

Case in point, our word of the day …

1. case. noun

  • an instance of the occurrence, existence, etc., of something: Sailing in such a storm was a case of poor judgment.
  • the actual state of things: That is not the case.
  • a question or problem of moral conduct; matter: a case of conscience.
  • situation; circumstance; plight: Mine is a sad case.
  • a person or thing whose plight or situation calls for attention: This family is a hardship case.
  • a specific occurrence or matter requiring discussion, decision, or investigation, as by officials or law-enforcement authorities: The police studied the case of the missing jewels.
  • a stated argument used to support a viewpoint: He presented a strong case against the proposed law.
  • an instance of disease, injury, etc., requiring medical or surgical attention or treatment; individual affliction: She had a severe case of chicken pox.
  • a medical or surgical patient.
  • Law. a. a suit or action at law; cause. b. a set of facts giving rise to a legal claim, or to a defense to a legal claim.
  • Grammar.  a.a category in the inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, noting the syntactic relation of these words to other words in the sentence, indicated by the form or the position of the words. b. a set of such categories in a particular language. c. the meaning of or the meaning typical of such a category. d. such categories or their meanings collectively.
  • Informal. a peculiar or unusual person: He’s a case.

case. Idioms

  • get/be on someone’s case, Slang. to bother or nag someone; meddle in someone’s affairs: Her brother is always on her case about getting married. Why do you keep getting on my case?
  • get off someone’s case, Slang. to stop bothering or criticizing someone or interfering in someone’s affairs: I’ve had enough of your advice, so just get off my case.
  • have a case on, Slang. to be infatuated with: He had a case on the girl next door.
  • in any case, regardless of circumstances; be that as it may; anyhow: In any case, there won’t be any necessity for you to come along.
  • in case, if it should happen that; if: In case I am late, don’t wait to start dinner.
  • in case of, in the event of; if there should be: In case of an error in judgment, the group leader will be held responsible.
  • in no case, under no condition; never: He should in no case be allowed to get up until he has completely recovered from his illness.

2. case. noun

  • an often small or portable container for enclosing something, as for carrying or safekeeping; receptacle: a jewel case.
  • a sheath or outer covering: a knife case.
  • a box with its contents: a case of ginger ale.
  • the amount contained in a box or other container: There are a dozen bottles to a case.
  • a pair or couple; brace: a case of pistols.
  • a surrounding frame or framework, as of a door.
  • Bookbinding. a completed book cover ready to be fitted to form the binding of a book.
  • Printing. a tray of wood, metal, or plastic, divided into compartments for holding types for the use of a compositor and usually arranged in a set of two, the upper (upper case) for capital letters and often auxiliary types, the lower (lower case) for small letters and often auxiliary types, now generally replaced by the California job case. Compare news case.
  • a cavity in the skull of a sperm whale, containing an oil from which spermaceti is obtained.
  • Also called case card. Cards. the last card of a suit or denomination that remains after the other cards have been played: a case heart; the case jack.
  • Faro. casebox.
  • Southeastern U.S. (chiefly South Carolina). a coin of a particular denomination, as opposed to the same amount in change: a case quarter.
  • Metallurgy. the hard outer part of a piece of casehardened steel.

case. verb (used with object)

  • to put or enclose in a case; cover with a case.
  • Slang. to examine or survey (a house, bank, etc.) in planning a crime (sometimes fol. by out): They cased the joint and decided to pull the job on Sunday.
  • to fuse a layer of glass onto (glass of a contrasting color or of different properties).
  • to cover (a surface of a wall, well, shaft, etc.) with a facing or lining; revet.
  • Bookbinding. to bind (a book) in a case.
  • Cards Slang. a. to arrange (cards or a pack of cards) in a dishonest manner. b. to remember the quantity, suit, or denomination of (the cards played).

Source: dictionary.com

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Thanks. We have had great response to our original post: Nouns gone bad … the phenomenon of using nouns as verbs, and the growing prevalence of this practice.

Today, we saw a Web item that prompted us to sequel the original:

“Do you sushi?”

noun gone bad

(click here for the real story)

What a great example. Have you ever used the word sushi as a verb?

Here are more culprits from our readers and our research:

DRC is … “Jonesing for something to drink.”

CDS heard a sportscaster say … “He defensed that play perfectly.”

CG is going to … “TiVo (or DVR) her favorite TV shows.”

Speaking of favorites, have you ever favorited a Web site or a tweet?

CG heard someone say (and we heard this one on the TV show Will & Grace) … “lotion up their skin.”

SF reminded us that … “Of course there’s ‘friended‘ on Facebook/MySpace.”

Recently, we read an article in which … “The shoplifter was reprieved at the last minute.”

What about this … “are you gaming today?”

Oh, yes, another from the computer age … “let’s pdf that document.”

Got more? Please let us hear from you …

Be sure to see our related posts:

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Does this title sound like some kind of 12-step program? Can you pronounce it as a word?

NEAIAA = Not Every Abbreviation Is An Acronym!

Here’s a lesson/word of the day:

abbreviation. noun.

  • a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, lb. for pound.
  • an act of abbreviating; state or result of being abbreviated; reduction in length, duration, etc.; abridgment.

acronym. noun.

  • a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words, as Wac from Women’s Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.
  • an acrostic.

acronym. verb (used with object)

  • to make an acronym of: The committee’s name has been acronymed MIKE.

We actually believe that the verb form of acronym should be considered in our group of Nouns gone bad …

TIP: Just remember, if you can pronounce it as a word, it is more than an abbreviation, it is an acronym.

Sources: dictionary.com, Acronym Finder

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Here’s another People Magazine news headline …

“Lou Ferrigno Training Michael Jackson for Tour”

(click here for the real story)

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

teacher's pet

So, here’s another word of the day for you to ponder …

hulk. noun

  • the body of an old or dismantled ship.
  • a ship specially built to serve as a storehouse, prison, etc., and not for sea service.
  • a clumsy-looking or unwieldy ship or boat.
  • a bulky or unwieldy person, object, or mass. as in: The Incredible Hulk.
  • the shell of a wrecked, burned-out, or abandoned vehicle, building, or the like.

hulk. verb (used without object)

  • to loom in bulky form; appear as a large, massive bulk (often fol. by up): The bus hulked up suddenly over the crest of the hill.
  • British Dialect. to lounge, slouch, or move in a heavy, loutish manner.

Source: dictionary.com

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Here’s a news headline from today’s People Magazine online:

“Levi Johnston Hunts Stardom in Los Angeles”

(click here for the real story)

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

hunting stardom

And, this leads us to a versatile word of the day …

hunt. verb (used with object)

  • to chase or search for (game or other wild animals) for the purpose of catching or killing.
  • to pursue with force, hostility, etc., in order to capture (often fol. by down): They hunted him down and hanged him.
  • to search for; seek; endeavor to obtain or find (often fol. by up or out): to hunt up the most promising candidates for the position.
  • to search (a place) thoroughly.
  • to scour (an area) in pursuit of game.
  • to use or direct (a horse, hound, etc.) in chasing game.
  • Change Ringing. to alter the place of (a bell) in a hunt.

hunt. verb (used without object)

  • to engage in the pursuit, capture, or killing of wild animals for food or in sport.
  • to make a search or quest (often fol. by for or after).
  • Change Ringing. to alter the place of a bell in its set according to certain rules.

hunt. noun

  • an act or practice of hunting game or other wild animals.
  • a search; a seeking or endeavor to find.
  • a pursuit.
  • a group of persons associated for the purpose of hunting; an association of hunters.
  • an area hunted over.
  • Change Ringing. a regularly varying order of permutations in the ringing of a group of from five to twelve bells.

Source: dictionary.com

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We chuckled when we saw this wikiHow title on iGoogle:

“How to Fix a Slow Toilet”

(click here for the real story)

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

slow toilet

So, here we go with our word of the day:

fix. verb (used with object)

  • to repair; mend.
  • to put in order or in good condition; adjust or arrrange: She fixed her hair in a bun.
  • to make fast, firm, or stable.
  • to place definitely and more or less permanently: to fix a circus poster to a wall.
  • to settle definitely; determine: to fix a price.
  • to direct (the eyes, the attention, etc.) steadily: His eyes were fixed on the distant ship.
  • to attract and hold (the eye, the attention, etc.).
  • to make set or rigid.
  • to put into permanent form.
  • to put or place (responsibility, blame, etc.) on a person.
  • to assign or refer to a definite place, time, etc.
  • to provide or supply with (something needed or wanted): How are you fixed for money?
  • Informal. to arrange or influence the outcome or action of, esp. privately or dishonestly: to fix a jury; to fix a game.
  • to get (a meal); prepare (food): What time shall I fix supper?
  • Informal. to put in a condition or position to make no further trouble.
  • Informal. to get even with; get revenge upon: I’ll fix him!
  • Informal. to castrate or spay (an animal, esp. a pet).
  • Chemistry. a. to make stable in consistency or condition; reduce from fluidity or volatility to a more stable state. b. to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a useful compound, as a nitrate fertilizer.
  • Photography. to render (an image) permanent by removing light-sensitive silver halides.
  • Microscopy. to kill, make rigid, and preserve for microscopic study.

fix. verb (used without object)

  • to become fixed.
  • to become set; assume a rigid or solid form.
  • to become stable or permanent.
  • to settle down.
  • Slang. to inject oneself with a narcotic.
  • Chiefly Southern U.S. to prepare; plan (usually fol. by an infinitive): I was just fixing to call you. We’re fixing to go to Colorado this summer.

By the way, we’re fixin’ to do a whole blog post on this and related southspeak. Stay tuned.

fix. noun

  • Informal. a position from which it is difficult to escape; predicament.
  • Informal. a repair, adjustment, or solution, usually of an immediate nature: Can you think of a fix for the problem?
  • Navigation. a. a charted position of a vessel or aircraft, determined by two or more bearings taken on landmarks, heavenly bodies, etc. b. the determining of the position of a ship, plane, etc., by mathematical, electronic, or other means: The navigator took a fix on the sun and steered the ship due north.
  • a clear determination: Can you get a fix on what he really means?
  • Slang. a. an injection of heroin or other narcotic. b. the narcotic or amount of narcotic injected. c. a compulsively sought dose or infusion of something: to need one’s daily fix of soap operas on TV.
  • Slang. a. an underhand or illegal arrangement, esp. one secured through bribery or influence. b. a contest, situation, etc., whose outcome is prearranged dishonestly.

fix. Verb phrases

  • fix on/upon, to decide on; determine: We won’t be able to fix on a location for the banquet until we know the number of guests.
  • fix up, Informal. a. to arrange for: to fix up (on) a date. b. to provide with; furnish. c. to repair; renew. d. to smooth over; solve: They weren’t able to fix up their differences.

fix. Idioms

  • fix one’s wagon, Informal. to exact retribution for an offense; treat someone vengefully: I’ll dock his pay and that will fix his wagon.
  • in a fix, Older Slang. pregnant.

Source: dictionary.com

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