Jeremy, adulting

Today’s Zits:

A natural verbing of the noun adult, pretty much immediately understandable. Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) looked at the verb back near the end of 2014, when she chose adulting as her 2014 Word of the Year.

[Added a bit later: there is now a Page on “Verbing” (under the Page “Linguistics notes”), listing postings on this blog on the subject.]

From GG:

Adulting describes acting like an adult or engaging in activities usually associated with adulthood — often responsible or boring tasks. On Twitter, adulting often follows a sentence as a hashtag (#adulting) and can be used seriously or ironically.

… Perhaps the most interesting thing is that there’s a popular blog called run by Kelly Williams Brown. She launched that blog in July of 2011 and subsequently published a New York Times bestselling book called Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps that came out in May of 2013.

She quotes her friend Lindsey Moreno:

I’m so bad at adulting. someone teach me to adult.

which is nice because it has not only the PRP adulting (used as a nominal gerund here; it’s also used as a verb in the progressive, as in the cartoon above), but also the BSE form adult with the infinitive marker to.

GG has some notes on adult as a natural verbing but nevertheless tries to find the earliest occurrence of the verb in print (she got back to 2010), and so to credit a coiner. But that strikes me as a pointless exercise. No doubt several people coined it, independently and without knowledge of other occurrences. Before it started to catch fire (around 2010 or 2011), there would be scattered independent occurrences, all of which would have some claim to being original. After it caught fire, there are too many occurrences, and no way to be sure which were coinings and which were relayings of something the user had heard. What’s important in all of this is the flashpoint: before that point, there were very few occurrences, in a mostly barren landscape; after it, there are a significant number of occurrences, probably clustered in several different places. Eventually — this doesn’t seem to have happened yet — people will cease to find the usage notable (even if it’s not something they say themselves).

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