Thursday, October 26, 2006

Verbifying Perfectly Innocent Nouns

The next time I hear someone use the word "popcorn" as a verb, I'm going to shout an obscenity.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you haven't ever had to "popcorn," and I'm envious of your innocence.

What noun, when used as a verb, causes your blood pressure to rise? I know there are some I'm forgetting.


Blogger Magdalene6127 said...

Oh PeaceBang... I am without a clue. Popcorn as a verb? Help!


Blogger PeaceBang said...

Mag, it's this thing everyone's using at workshop and conferences where they want to get people to respond to a question (typically, "How was this experience for you?") really quickly, and in no particular order. So they'll say, "Let's POPCORN some of our experiences for the next few minutes."

I just sit there cringing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the early 1980s, I was wigged out by the use of "to fantasy" as opposed to "to fantasize."

Mary Ann

Blogger Jess said...

Dialogue is the one that drives me crazy in meetings.

"Let's dialogue on that idea..."


Blogger Caroline Divine said...


(hi Mags, we know each other in another world where I don't use a pseudonym - more on this when I have time to write... haven't been in touch with you in a while, though I am all the time with our mutual friend the fabulous chaplain)(whom I turned on to Beauty Tips for Ministers, by the way) (PeaceBang, she's a big fan)

Anonymous bob said...

Today, any noun can be verbed.

Blogger Steve Caldwell said...

Just curious ... isn't this blog article title a self-referential example?

Aren't you "verbifying" the noun "verb"?

On a more serious note, I've used "popcorn" as a verb on rare instances when facilitating Our Whole Lives workshops. This may be a "degradation" of English or just an example of English living and growing. I do find it useful because most folks know what I mean when I use it.

If this really is a hot-button issue for you, I would recommend that you ask that "no verbifying" be included in the group covenant for any workshop that you participate in.

As a group facilitator, I would want the participants to be comfortable and if "verbifying" makes you uncomfortable, we would need to know that.

My personal language pet peeve is the overuse of acronyms in Unitarian Universalist settings. Speaking as a 20 year+ military retiree and a civil servant working for the military, Unitarian Universalists are worse than the military when it comes to this. It confuses newcomers when we do this and makes us less welcoming to them.

Blogger fausto said...

The noun is impact, meaning a consequence or influence (as opposed to the unrelated sense of a physical collision). The correct corresponding verb is not impact (which does mean to physically collide), but affect.

It is also not effect, which means not to influence but to execute or cause (as in, "The meeting planners, devoid of any meaningful faith, effected an ill-considered change in GA worship").

Blogger fausto said...

By the way, Cambridge Friends Meeting in Massachusetts is known as the "popcorn" meeting by other Quakers, because for some reasons, those Cantabrugians are constitutionally unable to sit silently and wait on the Holy Spirit before rising to testify. They can only sit so long before offering their testimony, whether the Spirit has moved them or not. (Of course, it's possible that the Spirit moves much more discernably and frequently in Cambridge than elsewhere, but it's statistically improbable.)

Blogger Elizabeth said...

I guess Episcopalians don't popcorn, because that one was new to me. Yikes.

Blogger Magdalene6127 said...

Yikes! I asked my 14 year old daughter at breakfast, and she said, "I dunno. Sounds like beating someone up? 'Let's popcorn that guy'?"


Anonymous Philocrites said...

I also hate nounifying: "What are your learnings?"

Blogger powderblue said...

Consultant-speak can be wincingly fascinating. I record morsels, and “popcorn” as a verb is going on the list!

I work with a group that frequently hears unsolicited proposals from consultants (not as exciting as that may sound). Maybe we’ll start a pool with the winner being the first person to hear “popcorn” used in this way – I’m sure it’s coming, it’s just too good!

About fifteen years ago “noodle” was being used similarly, in place of “consider”: “Let’s noodle that idea and interface about it again in the morning.” Ewww!

Blogger Patt said...


Anonymous Donald O'Bloggin said...

See, I alsways approach that situation as "So, let's discuss [topic] and [subtobic]. We can just go around popcorn style until anyone that wants to weigh in has done so."

Blogger Caroline Divine said...

Ooh, yes, "to impact" gets me almost as mad as "to access." Ick. And THANKS for the "affect" and "effect" distinction. I keep correcting it on my students' papers... Maybe they will leave college knowing the difference between the two!

By the way, even among Friends here in the Southland (I work at a Quaker- founded institution, which perhaps makes me a Quakapalian)the Cambridge Friends Meeting is known as the "popcorn meeting," so word gets around! I knew about this already because I'm a Yankee (but, please note, not a Yankees fan!) and only moved here 15 months ago, and it was a hoot to find out that the reputation was a national one, yea even a multidenominational one, since here we have many shades and movements of Friends. I've had to learn Quaker acronyms (speaking of those UU acronyms) like FUM and FGC. We've got our share of acronyms in the Episcopal Church, though more difficult for visitors is probably the Episco-speak of the non-acronym form. (One of our cartoonists, Jay Sidebotham, makes fun of it in his calendars.) You know, narthex and thurifer and suffragan and crypt. See and then scroll down to the cartoon marked "The Bishop Arrives for Pentecost." At least we laugh at ourselves.

Cheers from the rainy Southeast, and a deep Zen bow to the arbiters of linguistic usage. PB, have fun on the Cape. I'm envious.

Blogger Sun Warrior said...

How about the word 'community.'
Rev.'s love using that word. Let's go makes some community.

I think most people would like to be part of 'a community.' They don't want to have some community. Wasn't the old word 'fellowship?'

Blogger CK said...

I used to hear it called "popcorn prayer" in evangelical circles--pray as you're 'led.' I hated it, because I never could *feel* god telling me when to pray. Guilt upon guilt upon guilt. Uck.

Blogger CK said...

But as a corporate pet peeve, the misuse of "myself" ranks up there. Constantly I read emails stating, "If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Scott or myself."

It's me! A direct object! "Myself" is a reflexive pronoun. (And what the heck does "reach out" mean??) I buck convention and say, "Let me know if you have any questions." Bah.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

CK, that makes me particularly nuts too!

Anonymous jinnis said...

You are not alone:

From the November/December issue of Mother Jones, "Adobe systems is fighting the use of "photoshop" as a verb. Instead it recommends "the image was enhances using Adobe(R) Photoshop(R) software."

Blogger j.e. said...

I love your blog, Peacebang! I enjoy the posted comments, too!
I have heard of under-the-table meeting tic-tac-toe games where they have consultant-speak words (like popcorn, dialogue) laid out and when one is said you mark it off. When someone gets 3 in a row, the winner exclaims with the code word/phrase (Fabulous!, Whoo hoo - Synergize!, etc)


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