Monday Metaphor: Anthimeria: Verbing the Noun

What is Anthimeria?

The word is a combination of two Greek words: anti, meaning “instead of” or “opposite” and mereia meaning “a part.”

A word is anthimeriaed (I just coined a word) when someone uses it as a different part of speech than it was when it came into the language. It is most commonly done when a noun is turned into a verb.

Nouning verbs and verbing nouns is so common, I can’t see why people make a big deal of it. I see it as another way the English language grows. Usually the reader has no trouble in deciphering the meaning. Just, “Oh, yeah; I get it.”

And then the new, coined word slips into the language. A generation later, it’s as familiar as its ancestor and is commonly accepted.

The wordsmith at LiteraryZone.com says these words are “revolutionary.” They jump from their original part of speech to another.

It’s time we should all have a good sing.

Don’t worry. I’m mapping our progress.

Oh no, she will architect her own room.

Yeah, I am about halfway through. I have milestoned my life.

Why don’t you gift him a wig?

Ugh, they are keyboarding it all day long.

Table that article right now!

Yes, she’s OK now. She just needed a good cry.

Isn’t weirding language fun?

Naturally, the master is Shakespeare.

Antony and Cleopatra
Act II Scene V

Cleopatra:
“I’ll unhair thy head.”

King Lear
Act IV Scene VI

King Lear:
“When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there found ‘em, there I smelt ‘em out.”

In Hamlet, he also creates a verb from an adjective:

Hamlet

Act III Scene I

“And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

How’s this: The chair chaired the meeting sitting in his favorite chair.

In my story, “Arctic Danger” (Characters Magazine), I use the noun “kayak” as a verb.

High summer on the edge of the arctic circle melted the last snow chunks from the creek running in front of the Chugak home. Gary looked from the flowing water to the broken fishing rod in his hand. Then his attention was caught by the excited voice of his younger sister. “Gary, Mom said we could kayak to the store,” said Kiana, clutching her little purse. “And here’s a lunch she packed for us.”

Let’s see if we can figure out what I meant by this title: “Bear in Mind(Characters Magazine). I would say it is double usage, both verb and noun at the same time.

Tressa waved goodbye to her friends as she watched the school bus pull away. A thought was nibbling at the tip of her brain, like an about-to-be-born chick pecking at its shell. What have I forgotten? she wondered.

Anthimeria is an ongoing process with our language. New concepts are constantly being born and with them the words to express their meanings. Haven’t we all googled something on Google?

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nancy Stewart
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 08:15:47

    Barbara, this is wonderful! In fact, I’m sending it on to my son who teaches at Cambridge. He will love it!

    Rainy morning here in St. Louis, and this made me smile.

    Thanks.

    Reply

  2. barbarabockman
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 13:31:48

    Nancy, how nice that this came in first. I would be intrested to know what you son has to say about it.

    (You’re forcing me to brag a little).

    Reply

  3. Barbara Ehrentreu
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 14:15:39

    Barbara, very clever and love the Shakespeare you threw in here. I love the word: regifted.

    Reply

  4. Karen Cote
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 16:23:10

    Barbara, the more I learn about your complex character, the more I appreciate the beautiful being you are. I too would like to know what the Cambridge teacher has to say. I’m sure, whatever it is, will be profound…just as his subject is.

    Hugs,

    Reply

  5. Janet Ann Collins
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 17:16:49

    Some people (I call them stick-in-the-muds) complain about that sort of word usage, but English is a living language. That’s why it’s so rich.

    Reply

  6. James Hartley
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 17:22:39

    Well, I never heard the word “Anthimeria” before and my first reaction was WTF does that mean? But as soon as you explained it, it was obvious. Yes, I think it’s a normal part of the evolution of the language. Wouldn’t surprise me if I had done it myself without thinking …

    Actually, if you think about it, “Verbing a noun” is a self-defining example!

    Reply

  7. J. Aday Kennedy
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 21:43:12

    In this techno savvy world words are coined all of the time like “I got FRIENDED (on Facebook). I’ve never heard the term, but occasionally I read one in the Sci Fi I love to read.
    Aday

    Reply

  8. barbarabockman
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 23:48:11

    Nancy, thanks again for your great comment.

    Barbara, I think “regift” is a pretty recent addition to the lexicon. Maybe because before how, people didn’t do it.

    Karen, you leave me breathless. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kind comment. Cyber friends are the greatest, and Muse Friends even top that.

    Janet Ann, I agree with you. And Jim and J. Aday, too. We are witnessing an explosion of vocabulary in the English language. It’s a great time to be using this language.

    Well, Jim, Duh! Why do you think I titled the post this way?

    J. Aday, I think you mentioned your favorite sci fi author before. I must get around to reading him.

    Thanks, All

    Reply

  9. Jayne Moraski
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 10:06:18

    Thank you for sharing Barbara!

    Reply

  10. Connie Arnold
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 12:40:29

    Interesting post, Barbara! I hadn’t heard that word before but like your examples. There seem to be quite a few of those when you’re on facebook or twitter much.

    Reply

  11. barbarabockman
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 18:39:44

    Hi Jayne,
    Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Connie,
    It’s amazing the wonderful ways our language serves us. And also how instinctively we use and create more ways.

    Reply

  12. Jessica
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 23:02:22

    Cool post! It’s such a part of our everyday speech I had never thought about it before. 🙂

    Reply

  13. Karen Cioffi
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 16:20:19

    Great post. It is interesting how the English language is continually evolving and in our quicker-than-lightening world, how we are always looking for shortcuts – have you FB’d today (have you gone on Facebook today). So many words are being created and so many more are taking on new meanings.

    Reply

  14. barbarabockman
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 20:52:26

    Jessica,
    You’re right. When I encounter a word that’s been anthimeriaed, I make note and go right on.

    Karen,
    I think if this propensity to shortcut is going to influence literature greatly.

    Reply

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