Word Police! Verbing a Noun edition  

Posted by Benjie in , , ,

Perhaps you noticed that I did the very thing I intend to gripe about in the title of this post - that is, turning a noun into a verb simply by adding the ending: -ing.

Here is the situation (and why my hackles are up about it): listening to some AM radio (they talk a lot there, and I sometimes turn over to some St. Louis stations to get more information--not about anything, just more information), the topic du jour was Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend. The two men carrying on the discussion were frothing at the mouth about how the whole story was a carrying out of a huge deception against the American (especially the sports fan) public. One of the men correctly (in usage if not in context) contended that the Notre Dame athlete was "perpetrating a fraud" while his friend agreed by saying that the young man was "frauding the American public."

When I first heard the word "fraud" used in that sense I thought that perhaps I was mistaken in my understanding of the word. After all, these men were broadcast professionals. Surely they would have a vocabulary and know how to use it. But the offense continued to niggle at me until I had to look it up. And as I suspected the word "fraud" is a noun. It denotes an act of deceit or the person who tricks another. As such the word doesn't accept the -ing ending as if the fraud is being performed at that moment or toward someone (even if it is).

But take heart! There is a verb form of the word "fraud." And that word is (drum roll please) "defraud". This handy little word is a transitive verb (meaning it has an object) that indicates the action that carries with it fraud against someone. In other words, while you cannot "fraud your neighbor," you can most certainly "defraud him".

There are a number of other nouns that we have grown fond of using as verbs simply by adding the -ing ending (I'll save the list for another time), but in a profession of communicators (in this case radio broadcasters) isn't it time we learned the correct verb form of a noun before indulging in verbification?

This entry was posted on 22 January 2013 at 3:43 PM and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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