Vivek Haldar

Nouns as verbs, verbs as nouns

The line between nouns and verbs is being gradually blurred. There are many common examples of nouns being used as verbs: “I need to Xerox this form”, “Let me Google that." 

Lately, the current has been flowing the other way too, and it’s not unusual to hear verbs being used as nouns. A common example is the verb "ask” being used as a noun: “My ask is that you make this button green.” Even more egregious: “I want to action this plan”, or, “I am ambitionistic about actioning progress.

This always strikes me as wrong, sticking out like a jarring sawtooth in everyday speech. I have some sympathy for noun-as-verb usage because it mostly originated in the speech of regular people. But the verb-as-noun case seems to have been the proud creation of a narrow band of meeting-crazed office workers. I’ve noticed a strong correlation between verb-as-noun usage and number of hours per day spent in meetings. Just say no.