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If you are one of more than 600 million people on Facebook, it’s likely that you regularly friend (and sometimes unfriend) others. This extending of language – verbing of nouns – brings growing pains. Some rail against it.
Why verb a noun when a perfectly serviceable verb ‘to be friend’ is already apart of the language?But language grows with need, and ‘to friend’ someone online is not necessarily the same as ‘to be friend’. Each new verb or noun adds a new shade to the mosaic of the language.
And it happens all the time. We have the verb ‘serve’ and the noun ‘service’, but we extend ‘service’ to use it as a verb again because ‘to service’ is not necessarily the same as ‘to serve’.
Put new verbs into service in your conversation and writing,at work,home,and beyond.Friend them into your vocabulary, and don’t worry about those who complain against the verbing of nouns. It has been going on for quite a while now.
The Oxford English Dictionary has the first citation for the word friend as a verb from the year 1225. In fact, ‘to friend’ has an older pedigree than ‘to befriend’ (1559).
There was no Facebook, no Web, no computers, not even electricity back in the 13th century. But there was language, and a need to stretch it to fill a need. And long after Facebook is gone, we’ll continue using language in ways that fit. Here’s to verbing of nouns (and nouning of verbs)!