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 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

“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:


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?

Monday Metaphor: Asyndeton: I came, I wrote, I blogged

I hope you and Julius Caesar will forgive me for warping his famous declaration.

The standard English sentence with a series calls for commas to separate each item and a conjunction before the last item.

Last time we talked about polysyndeton, the use of conjunctions throughout the series without commas.

This time we will talk about asyndeton, the use of commas to separate the items of a series without conjunctions.

There are some good reasons for using this rhetorical device. Sometimes the writer wants to give the impression that the list is not complete.  The omission of a conjunction gives the feeling of speed and concision to lists and phrases and clauses. The use of a final conjunction might weaken the power of the sentence, so leaving it out makes for a strong and direct climatic effect.

When I’m writing, I have an instinctive feel for whether a series needs a conjunction or a comma/semi-colon. Here is an example from my folk tale,   

             “The Devil’s Millhopper”  published in Long Story Short.

                        So Janey piled her corn into a wheelbarrow and took it to the

                        Devil’s mill. She descended a winding path into the gloomy

                        nether region, roiling clouds spitting out jagged shafts of lightening

                        over her head. Briars clawed at her skirts, crawly things squirmed

                        beneath her feet, eyes glowed red from behind shriveled trees.


There are many exemplary uses of asyndeton in speeches and literature. Here are a few.

Aristotle wrote in his Rhetoric that this device was more effective in spoken oratories than in written prose:

“Thus strings of unconnected words, and constant repetitions of words and phrases, are very properly condemned in written speeches: but not in spoken speeches — speakers use them freely, for they have a dramatic effect. In this repetition there must be variety of tone, paving the way, as it were, to dramatic effect; e.g., ‘This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely.'”

American politicians have used the stratagem to great effect:

“…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.

“…that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.

            The US Declaration of Independence includes an example of asyndeton, referring to the British:

“We must… hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.” 

Asyndeton is another useful technique in the writer’s bag of tricks.

Monday Metaphor: Paradox; It Is, and It Isn’t, or Is It?

A paradox is a statement or event that seems to contradict itself, though it is still true, or at least makes sense.

In A dictionary of Literary Terms, (3rd ed. Blackwell, 1991), J. A. Cuddon explains the origin: “Originally a paradox was merely a view which contradicted accepted opinion. By round about the middle of the 16th c. the word has acquired the commonly accepted meaning it now has: an apparently self-contradictory (even absurd) statement which, on closer inspection, is found to contain a truth reconciling the conflicting opposites. . . .”                                                    

Paradox occurs often in children’s literature, even that for the very young, as is seen in Betty Ann Schwartz’s What makes a Rainbow? In this board book, a little rabbit’s mother suggests he ask his friends to answer his question. Each animal replies with a color—the color that is associated with the particular animal, “green” for the grasshopper, for instance. By the end of the book, Little Rabbit learns that besides colors it also takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow.

The child in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Bed in Summer” (found in A Child’s Garden of Verses) finds the long summer days and the long winter nights to be a paradox:


In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candlelight.

In summer, quite the other way,

I have to go to bed by day.


I have to go to bed and see

The birds still hopping on the tree,

Or hear the grown-up people’s feet

Still going past me in the street.


And does it not seem hard to you,

When all the sky is clear and blue,

And I should like so much to play,

To have to go to bed by day?


The paradox of Jessica Aday Kennedy’s Marta’s Garguantian Wings (Guardian Angel Publishing) is that the wings that Marta thinks are a liability are really an asset.

The antics of Artemis Fowl (paradoxical name: does this mean he hunts for foul people?) keep the Middle Grade Reader hopping among alien robots, fairies and dwarfs and imps, multiple personalities, and real stuff like global warming. In Eoin Cofler’s “Time Paradox,” Artemis (now fifteen years of age) and his friends  journey to the past to correct a mistake Artemis made about eight years earlier in his eventful life. His mother has contracted a rare disease that can only be cured by an extract from the brain of an extinct lemur, and ironically, that extinction was hastened by none other than Artemis himself. It will be interesting to see how Artemis battles with himself.

Paradox abounds in adult poetry and fiction, also.

We find in the Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson many examples.


On the bleakness of my lot

            Bloom I strove to raise.

Late, my acre of a rock

            Yielded grape and maize.


Soil of flint if steadfast tilled

            Will reward the hand;

Seed of palm by Lybian sun

            Fructified in sand.



I many times thought peace had come,

When peace was far away;

As wrecked men deem they sight the land

At centre of the sea,


And struggle slacker, but to prove,

As hopelessly as I,

How many the fictitious shores

Before the harbor lie.


There’s the “rule” painted on the barn in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” The idea of being “more equal” is paradoxical, but Napoleon oppresses the other farm animals; he must think he’s more equal than they.

Consider also the paradox of Captain Beatty in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Books have been banned, and Beatty’s job is to destroy any books he finds, but he is obviously well-read because he surrounds himself with quotations from great literature that he uses to convince people that destroying books is the right thing to do.

Shakespeare was the master of paradox.

In Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio speaks,

“One fire burns out another’s burning, 
One pain is lessen’d by another’s anguish.”

And Juliet: “Parting is such sweet sorrow. . .”

This brings up a sub-genre of paradox, the oxymoron, a figure of speech wherein contradictory statements reside side by side.

In Macbeth, the witches say, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”

The Paradox of Catch-22
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.”
(Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1961)

“Catch – 22” has become an almost every day term.

My story, “A Pet for Foley,” (knowonder magazine, Sept. 2009) turns on a paradox. Here is the beginning and end of that story.

Foley was a Springer spaniel puppy with white and brown and while fur. He lived on a farm until a nice lady came and took him home in her car, his floppy ears streaming like feathers in the wind. The lady gave him food and water and a doghouse in the fenced back yard.

After he explored his yard, Foley felt lonely. “What I need is a pet,” he said.

            (Foley meets three animals he asks to be his pet. The squirrel and the blue

            bird agree, but things go wrong; it just doesn’t work out. The mole is not

            acceptable, so Foley doesn’t   even ask him. Now he’s alone again).

Foley lay down with his head on his front paws and thought about his problem. Who could he ask to be his pet? Just then an orange tabby strolled into the back yard. Foley jumped up and ran over to greet the cat. He smiled and said, “Will you be my pet? We can play and have fun together.”

“Sorry,” said Nutmeg, licking his back with dignity and not sounding very sorry at all. “I already belong to Jessica and here she comes now.”

A yellow school bus came down the street. By the screeching sound of the bus’s brakes, it must have stopped in front of Foley’s house. In a few minutes a pretty little girl opened the back door and ran down the steps. The cat purred and arched his back up against her legs. She bend down and scratched him behind the ears. “Hi, Nutmeg,” she said. Then she ran over to Foley. She sat down on the grass and hugged him. “Foley, I am so glad that you have come to live with us and be my pet.”

Foley’s ears stood up in surprise.

He and Jessica were soon having fun. They played Frisbee, fetch, tug-o-war, and tumble-in-the-grass. The treat Jessica gave Foley tasted delicious—much better than worms and grubs!

Life in Foley’s new home was going to be wonderful. He knew he would never be lonely again.

“I guess I don’t need a pet. . .” Foley told himself. I AM a pet.”


What’s your favorite paradox in literature?



The Story Behind the Story

A Moveable Feast

Illustration by Samantha Bell

If you’ve read my story, “A Movable Feast,” in the June issue of Guardian Angel Kids, this explanation will make sense. If not, you are invited to do so. I hope you will take the message to heart and share it with the kids in your life.

An analogy that fits is “you have to break some eggs to make an omelet.” The story concerns caterpillars eating the leaves of beautiful plants. Some caterpillars devour the leaves but others just nibble. Either way, they have to have the food in order to survive and become butterflies. Later, butterflies thrive on nectar plants.

One time, my neighbor, Cindy’s, friend came to visit and saw the caterpillars swarming over the passion vines on the fence. She was shocked and horrified. Cindy’s little girl, Corina, explained the reason we allowed such practice and the visitor was mollified.  That was the inspiration for the story. When Cindy read the story, she said, “You made me the villain of the story!” I told her: “No, the neighbor lady is a made up character.” Cindy’s a good sport.

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