2pbfV examples

back-formation of verbs from two-word constructions: examples

(very lightly edited citations from sources; but the index is keyed to these comments)

1. [http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=795]

Early/absentee vote (the verbs)
November 2, 2008 @ 9:54 pm · Filed by Arnold Zwicky under Morphology, Syntax

Although I posted on this on ADS-L earlier today, I thought that maybe in honor of the U.S. elections on Tuesday it would be entertaining to post a version of it here. The usage in question is the verbs early/absentee vote (not vote early/absentee).

From Language Log reader Drew Ward to me a few days ago:

>This month I have been hearing formations such as “John early voted today.” (local news) or “Many more people this year have decided to early vote.” (CNN)

>Today I also heard this trend being applied to absentee voting with a local news station following up a story on early voting with “You can also absentee vote this week.” Whereas in the past I know I’ve always
heard “vote absentee” or “vote by absentee ballot”.<

There are lots of google hits for “to early vote” and “early voted”, a few for “to absentee vote” and “absentee voted”. (Plus, I now see, some for “to advance vote” etc.):

“To early vote”:
Thousands line up to early vote. Submitted by ryanteaguebeckwith on October 17, 2008 (link)

Some people in Clayton County are standing in line for four hours just to early-vote.” (link)

“Early voted”:
Oct 28, 2008 … We early voted friday.. whew… I was relieved.. and felt proud as well for my vote choice… (link)

I Early Voted for Barack Today! by Arkieboy. Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 01:11:38 PM PDT . My wife kicked me out of the house today. Told me to go hang out in the … (link)

“To absentee vote”:
Sep 25, 2008 … “This will be my third year to absentee vote,” Gnidovec said. (link)

How to absentee vote in Louisiana. Posted Sep 7th 2007 10:00AM by Mike Schleifstein (link)

“Absentee voted”:
Nov 1, 2008 … If you have absentee voted already stop in and say hi. (link)

A double header:
Oct 29, 2008 … Have you either early voted or absentee voted in the 2008 Election? Yes. No. Other (Tell us below!) (link)

These formations look to me not like an unusual placement of the modifiers early and absentee, but rather like back-formations from early/absentee voting/voter. The results seem to function as a lexical unit (note the hyphenated early-vote example).

For early vote, there’s a clear advantage to having such a unit, since vote early could refer to voting early on election day, while early vote refers specifically to institutionalized procedures for voting before election day.

(I posted on Language Log a little while ago about a somewhat different back-formation, namely to gay marry, with the verb back-formed from gay marriage.)

[11/3/08: more back-formed verbs from our readers. From Keith Ivey, to offshore drill (John McCain in August: “We need to offshore drill for oil and natural gas.”). From Adam Sontag, to underage drink (“No one has the rest of their lives to underage drink”).]

2. [http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=519]

To gay marry
August 22, 2008 @ 1:06 pm · Filed by Arnold Zwicky under Morphology, Semantics

Along with “I like the crotch on the idea…” on composer Nico Muhly’s blog (commented on here) comes a use of the verb gay marry, in

>I did an interview with a guy in Seattle – totally random, I had never met him before – who had such a smart, interesting read on the piece [Muhly’s most recent album, Mothertongue], I wanted to gay marry him right there on the phone.<

The moderately common gay marry is undoubtedly a back-formation from gay marriage (with its non-predicating modification), the result being a compound verb of a pattern (Adj + V) that’s not at all productive in English. Meanwhile, some people have asked me why anyone would use gay marry at all; why not just use marry?

(Background: Muhly is openly gay.)

A few more cites:

Massachusetts Supreme Court Orders All Citizens To Gay Marry. BOSTON—Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 5-2 Monday in favor of full, equal, and mandatory gay marriages for all citizens. The order nullifies all pre-existing heterosexual marriages and lays the groundwork for the 2.4 million compulsory same-sex marriages that will take place in the state by May 15 [2004]. (link) [This is The Onion, folks; it’s a joke.]

While I guess it should be legal to practice homosexualliy in privacy, I believe it should be illegal to gay marry or to show gay affection in public. If this kind of thing is allowed, marriage in this country will go strait to hell. (comment by “Feast of Flesh” here)

That’s 41 states’ worth of gays that need a place to gay marry and settle down. (link)

A fair number of the hits have gay marry used merely to express fondness or approval for someone or something, with no necessary reference to same-sex relationships, as on this blog:

Here are the best and worst of the week that was: the ideas, goods and people we want to gay marry … and the ones John McCain would appoint strict constitutionalist jurists to restrict our access to. (link)

Muhly’s use seems to me to lie somewhere in between the entirely literal use (‘marry someone of the same sex’) and the fully extended, merely approbative, use.

If you want a figurative expression to indicate approval, then marry probably won’t do, but the trendy and noticeable gay marry might serve. But why would anyone use gay marry literally, when the context almost always makes the sex of the marriage partner clear? Isn’t gay marry redundant (and wordy) in context?

Well, yes and no. Marry by itself will suffice in many situations. When my friends Mike and Aric got married (here in California) last month, no one said “Aric and Mike got gay married”; that would have been pointless. But someone you know to be gay might well tell you, “I hope to gay marry some day”, and that would not necessarily be pointless; if your friend had said “I hope to marry some day”, you could work it out that your friend was looking foward to same-sex marriage, but “gay marry” makes this explicit.

Sometimes explicitness is a good thing, even if it’s not strictly necessary. We’ve looked at a number of such cases here on Language Log, in particular with reference to appositive vs. intersective modification. Some time ago I looked at the appositive modification in pilotless drones (used of planes), pointing out that though drones are by definition pilotless, it can be useful to remind people of this fact.

Meanwhile, representatives of the current U.S. administration (in particular GWB) meticulously avoid plain timetable to refer to plans for disengagement in Iraq, but insist on the appositive modification in arbitrary/artificial timetable, to emphasize their belief that all timetables are arbitrary or artificial, and use other expressions for disengagement plans: “general time horizon” (reported by the NYT with “timeline”) and now “aspirational goals” (as reported on the front page of today’s NYT — though the Times seems to have lost patience with the administration’s language-spinning and refers to the draft accord as setting a “withdrawal timetable”).

3. To Drew Ward 11/6/08:

On Nov 5, 2008, at 3:04 PM, you wrote:

>Thanks for the reply. The instances you’ve found as well as your other back-formations online are quite interesting mainly as to how easily we seem to be accepting this sort of creation in the age of mass media.I have to admit I’ve all but switched to BBC America and NPR for any real news. But when watching CNN there is a very obvious different in language usage both in the I suppose folksy feel of CNN and in the choice of words and complexity of sentences.It’ll continue to be fun to watch these various “evolutions (devolutions?)”.<

i don’t see why you think these developments are declines.

4. From Chris Waigl 11/8/08:

Two I found today: executive produce and buddy work.

From the Wikipedia entry for The Sarah Jane Adventures (a Doctor Who spin-off series, for children):

“In December 2007, the BBC released a statement saying that Julie Gardner will be replaced by Piers Wenger as Executive Producer for Doctor Who in January 2009, but that she will continue to executive produce Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures through 2008.”

“Let’s Buddy Work!” Title of a post on my friend Stephanie Booth’s blog. Stephanie and some of her fellow solo workers just opened a co-working space in Lausanne, where she lives.

AMZ to ADS-L 11/9/08:

chris waigl has pointed out “to executive produce”, which gets a huge number of web hits (in its various forms). you can see why it’s so popular: “X will executive produce Y” says more than “X will produce Y”, and it has an agentive subject, unlike the paraphrase “X will be the executive producer of Y” (which is also longer than “X will executive produce Y”).

i have the feeling that this one has been around for a while, but it’s hard to check out. we don’t seem to have discussed it on ADS-L, and even things like “executive producer” (“executive secretary”, “executive chairman”, etc.) are not so easy to track: NOAD2 and AHD4 have the relevant sense for the adjective “executive”: ‘having the power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect’ (NOAD2), with cites for “executive secretary” and “executive chairman”, but the OED has
only the more general sense ‘having the function of executing or carrying into practical effect’, with no cites close to “executive producer” etc. (and of course nothing for “executive produce”).

Ben Zimmer to ADS-L 11/9/08:

A few cites for “executive produced” (the one from 1948 might be a typo for “executive producer”):

1948 _Winnipeg Free Press_ 22 Mar. 5/6 Best documentary, Design For Death, Sid Rogell, executive produced (R.K.O.).

1970 _Los Angeles Times_ 29 June IV19/1 The Alan Lerner musical was excellently executive-produced by Howard Howard Koch (“Odd Couple”).

1972 _St. Petersburg Times_ 11 Sep. 10D/3 The first show could be subtitled The Mod Squad Meets West Side Story because the regulars have counterparts on The Mod Squad (they’re both executive produced by Aaron Spelling).

Dave Wilton to ADS-L 11/9/08:

The term also has a particular distinction and resonance in the industry.

“Producer” is a vague title that can connote a wide variety of roles, everything from the person who is primarily responsible for a film or TV series to a courtesy title thrown at someone marginally connected to the project as a sop to their ego. So when someone in the industry says they are “producing” something, no one really knows what that means or what their role in the production actually is.

An “executive producer” title, however, carries a precise meaning. The executive producer is the person in charge of arranging the financing for a film’s production and overseeing the logistics of a production. So when someone says they are “executive producing” a project, everyone knows
exactly what that means and that it is a position of significant responsibility and influence.

And in television, the executive producer is even more important. The executive producer is usually the creator of the TV series and the primary creative force behind it–akin to the director of a feature film. In TV production, the director has a less prestigious role, usually confined to
being responsible for the on-time delivery of a particular episode within the creative construct set by the executive producer and cannot make major creative inputs to the series as a whole.

“To executive produce” has been around for quite a while–I’ve been hearing it for at least a decade and it’s probably older than that.




with: underage drink



performance enhance, emotion-share, doctor-shop, all-conquer, cost-cut, matchmake, quality-control, silent-read, high speed transfer, stage-manage

Sender: American Dialect Society 12/3/08
Poster: Neal Whitman
Subject: Re: more back-formed shopping

These latest additions to the list of backformed compound verbs headed by ‘shop’ reminded me of ‘doctor-shop’, which I noticed a couple of years ago and included with a few other backformations gathered at around the same time: [http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2006/03/13/backformation-roundup/].
The specific quotation with ‘doctor-shop’ is:

“The decision puts Limbaugh back near square one and is likely to reinvigorate the criminal investigation into whether he ‘doctor-shopped.'”
(“Justices won’t hear Limbaugh appeal,” Palm Beach Post 29 Apr. 2005)

7. [http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2005/04/08/the-flapster/]


8. [http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2005/02/13/lets-problem-solve/]

One of Adam’s therapists hates the verb problem-solve. She’s heard, “Let’s problem-solve” in meetings and training sessions, and it strikes her as the kind of thing you’d expect a dorky, buzzword-spewing Office Space-types boss to say. Even though I hadn’t heard anyone use this verb myself, I shared her revulsion toward it. But through my disgust, I still recognized one more example of my favorite morphological process, backformation. This one followed the same three-step pattern evident in people-watch and underage-drink, price-match and fence-sit, and (courtesy of CGEL, pp. 1637-38), babysit, headhunt, lipread, brainwash, daydream, househunt, housekeep, sleepwalk, spring-clean, breakdance, plea-bargain, and windsurf.

Productive as this kind of backformation is, it sometimes doesn’t seem to occur. I was making a list of compound nouns of form Noun+Verb+er, and most of them had been backformed into compound verbs. In addition to the above, I came up with troubleshoot, proofread, cherrypick, buttkiss, backstab, mindread, copyedit, bartend, and timekeep. But others didn’t sound, to my ear, like they could work as verbs: *maneat, *booklove, *fire-eat, *tightrope-walk, *party-poop, *flyswat, *moviewatch, *fortune-tell, *face-paint, *lion-tame, *booksell, *gameplay, *noisemake, *claim-jump, *bodysnatch.

I’ve done Google searches on a few of them, and found that some really didn’t seem to be out there–for example, *maneat and *party-poop. But others, to my surprise, were attested after all–for example, tightrope-walk, as in “It tightrope-walks the fantasy/SF dividing line” (link). I have a list of 5 or 6 possible influences on the likelihood of a Noun+Verb+er compound undergoing backformation, but don’t have enough data yet to see if any of them is significant.

[AMZ added 6/10/09: to buttkiss, add asskiss]

[AMZ found 6/10/09: fire-eat, fly swat, fortune-tell, face-paint, lion-tame, gameplay, claim-jump]


David Kosofsky Says:

February 14, 2005 at 11:24 pm

Oddly, I’ve shared your fascination with that kind of backformation for quite a while.

Here are a few that fit the pattern, I think: cheerlead, panhandle, typewrite, globetrot, potboil, spellbind.

And on a sudden inspiration, I just did a google on ‘navelgaze’ and found, among a few other instantiations, this:

“Ultimately, it feels more Right to me for sentience to be oriented towards the complexity found “outside” itself, i.e. to embrace the Unknown, rather than to navelgaze.”

Also, turning off the SafeSearch filter and wading through a few hundred porn-sites, I managed to find several instances of `muffdive’ as a verb.

And if you have any of those sound questionable, you’re welcome to… uh… ‘factcheck’ me.

(Ah… sure enough… here’s one of several that goggle serves up:

“It doesn’t change the fact that we will still factcheck their butts in a few nanoseconds and post what we find.”)

9. Neal Whitman to ADS-L 11/9/08 on showrunner and related items:

All this discussion of executive producers has reminded me of a term I only recently learned from my brother: “showrunner”. It sounds like the same kind of role that Dave outlines for executive producers. Are the terms synonymous? (Nevermind; I looked it up on Wikipedia:
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Show_runner]. Short answer: yes, more or less.)

It also occurred to me that “showrunner”, too, is ripe for the kind of backformation that Arnold has written about. (I’ve written about some of them, too; for example,
[http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2005/01/15/serial-killing-vs-serially-killing/] )
Sure enough, a search of some of the alt.tv newsgroups turns up…

9-1. the gerund form “showrunning”, complete with direct object. Not a backformation, but worth noting.

with Emmy wins this season for writing, starring and showrunning 30 Rock *alone* Tina Fey is already one of the legends of television history. (Rob Jensen, Nov. 5, 2008,

9-2. The same form used as a participle in a VP. Technically a backformation, but are there attestations of ‘showrun’ as a verb that aren’t identical to the gerund form? (See next item.)

It was almost simultaneously announced with October Road’s cancellation that the trio will be showrunning/writing the remake of BBC show “Life on Mars” on ABC next season. (leto, May 13, 2008,

9-3. “showrun” as the base form of a verb. Unquestionably a backformation.

Ball, who created the hit “Six Feet Under” for HBO, will exec produce and showrun “True Blood,” which is based on the novel series “Southern Vampire” from author Michael Schneider, “‘Six Feet Under’ creator to act as showrunner, _Variety_, sometime before Aug 10, 2007,

9-4. Further cementing backformation status: the finite form “showruns” (and another nonfinite “showrun”):

Probably even means that they’re leaning toward one staying to showrun [Gilmore Girls] (likely Amy, of course) while the other showruns the new show for its first season.(Rob Jensen, Nov. 26, 2005,

9-5. Even the irregular past form “showran”:

I thought Bob Boden showran the first season before Canter took over.
(uncamark Dec. 29, 2005,


However, that last one is a step too far for at least one speaker. The next message in the thread asks, “Is ‘showran’ a word you’ve ‘architected’ to mean produced? (chris319, Dec. 29, 2005)

10. line-jump / line jump ‘jump ahead in line’

fair number of hits 11/19/08 (after hearing it in a tv commercial for CiCi’s Pizza chain), along with irrelevant hits (note both intransitive and transitive uses):

Have you ever line-jumped at a buffet? doesn’t everyone?

When in a buffet do you…..?
line-jump when the person in front of you is taking forever at the mashed potatoes bowl, but you just want the turkey at the end? and do you consider it rude when someone line-jumps you?

[posted to ADS-L 11/22/08]

11. finger(-)fuck (presumably from the noun finger-fucking) – googled 11/22/08

Raven Riley strips down and finger fucks her pussy.

Kayden Daniels finger-fucks himself at JizzAddiction

A smart-looking gay boy got relentlessly bound, gagged, finger-fucked and more…

His head went back and I finger fucked him while he gently rubbed my hair.

12. [http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2005/01/15/serial-killing-vs-serially-killing/]


13. many entries in:

14. from Chris Waigl 11/22/08:

On Nov 22, 2008, at 10:53 AM, you wrote:

… Another backformed verb, from some CSI (Miami?) episode: “I substitute-teach here sometimes.” (Remembered from not very clear memory – I was watching this while sick.)

lots and lots of examples:

Should I Substitute Teach? Absolutely!

In order to be eligible to substitute teach on Prince Edward Island, an individual must obtain an authorization from the Registrar’s Office of the …

After graduating in 1989, he returned to Broadneck to work with the music program, and he substitute taught in Anne Arundel and Baltimore County Public …

and innumerable more.

15. see X-shop.doc file (plus doctor-shop in #6)

16. store-buy

Sender: American Dialect Society 12/4/08
Poster: Arnold Zwicky
Subject: Re: more back-formed shopping

On Dec 4, 2008, at 6:11 AM, Jim Landau wrote:

>Somewhat of a stretch, but there is the term “store-bought” (dated by MWCD10 as 1905) which suggests (but does not prove) the existence of a term “to store-buy” with a sense somewhat related to the ones discussed on this thread.<

this is exactly backwards. the usual story on the creation of back-formed two-part verbs is that they arise from “synthetic compounds”, compound nouns of the form X + Y, where Y is a PRP, agentive, or PSP version of a V (“bicycle-riding”, “bicycle-rider”, “storm-tossed”) and X is a N denoting a non-subject. synthetic compounds do not presuppose the existence of a verb N+V (“bicycle-ride”, “storm-toss”).

but synthetic compounds *look* like they’re based on N+V verbs, so the way is open for people to innovate these verbs. so from the noun “substitute teacher” ‘someone who teaches as a substitute for the regular teacher’ we get a new verb “substitute-teach” (pointed out to me by Chris Waigl not long ago), and from the noun “doctor-shopping” ‘shopping for a doctor’ we get a new verb “doctor-shop” (as Neal Whitman has reminded us).

once that’s happened and the innovative verb spreads, people will be inclined to see what were originally synthetic compounds as just based on the innovative verb. these days, people think of “babysitter” as based on the verb “babysit”, though historically it’s the other way around; synchronically, “babysitter” *is* based on the verb “babysit”.

“store-bought” is a (conventionalized, formulaic) synthetic compound of the PSP type (‘bought in/from a store’). it doesn’t presuppose a verb “store-buy” ‘buy in/from a store’ (though such a verb might have been innovated by now).

Sender: American Dialect Society 12/4/08
Poster: Neal Whitman
Subject: Re: more back-formed shopping

Suggestion isn’t enough for these backformations, since the question is whether speakers have actually taken the step of inferring the existence of the verb and started using it. the term. Googling on “store buy”, I find a lot of irrelevant hits with ‘store’ and ‘buy’ next to each other, but when I searched for ‘we store buy’, I found this:

Do you use vitamins from your pedatrition or store buy them?

a.. yes, we only use what the doctor gives us
b.. no, we store buy them

Sender: American Dialect Society 12/4/08
Poster: Benjamin Zimmer
Subject: Re: more back-formed shopping

… And you can also find “store(-)bought” used as an active, transitive, past-tense verb:

The only other Columbine I have is one that I “store-bought” last summer, and it’s burgundy and cream colored.

I store bought it, and activated it, and it’s not working very well for me at all 🙂
I’m about to store-buy it – what’s not working for you?

I store bought one–it had no bad for you stuff aka trans fats, partially hydrodgenated ya da…

We store bought our cake this time, but a Star War birthday party cake can be done pretty easily.

[follow-up postings from several people about the U.S. variant store-boughten instead of store-bought]

17. Google-search (plenty of hits)

If I want to buy something, I will Google search it and research the item and buy it. An advertisement isn’t going to make me decide to purchase something, …

Have you ever google searched your screen name? How many pages did it bring up?…


I guess I will web search for other possible sites that cover my area

Dec 1, 2008 … Have you web searched *your* username

18. grudge-hold

Poster: Arnold Zwicky 12/31/08
Subject: Re: Heard on The Judges: “grudge-hold against”

>On Dec 31, 2008, at 10:04 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

>Subject: Heard on The Judges: “grudge-hold against”

>Judge Mathis:

>>”So, besides everything else, you think that [your older brother] dislikes your wife.”<Late thirty-ish, white male speaker:

>>”Yes, sir. He thinks that she took me away from him at a young age. He’s been _grudge-holding against_ my wife for years!”<<

i think this is a progressive, using the present participle of a verb “grudge-hold”, a back-formation from the “synthetic compound” noun “grudge-holding”. i’ve found one example in the base form:

Indeed they have helped some (Bill not enough as he continues to grudge-hold and fail to utter superlatives about Barack Obama).

there are also adjectival uses of the present participle:

But what is interesting to me is that I’m not angry, mad, upset or even grudge holding against anyone.

I have trouble believing that they would be so grudge-holding against Chris Dodd . I’ll be I could search the archive of some of the people who have been …

and a modest number of examples of the synthetic compound noun, for instance:

So Snape’s continued grudge holding against James was ludicrous under the circumstances. James never used dark magic on him, …

I see no advantage to grudge holding against workers who only do what they know, but I do see value in contributing to making sure those who weren’t part …

19. job hunt

Consider using a middle name to job hunt or first and middle initials followed by your last name.
(Mildred Culp, “Business Matters” column in PADN, 1/1/09, p. 15)

huge number of other examples

20. hand-write

Business and Finance question: Is it legal to hand write an eviction notice? for what i know it is not legal to have a hand written eviction notice in the …

and many thousands of others

21. secret-spend

Sender: American Dialect Society 2/14/09
Poster: Jonathan Lighter
Subject: love pumpkin; secret-spend

CNN a few minutes ago:

“How many pople do you know who actually secret-spend and hide that package in the closet?” [“Secret spending” had already been mentioned.]


googled 2/14/09:

Overall, the items most likely to be bought in secret are clothes, however, when this is split between gender, 17 per cent of women secret spend on clothes …

22. name-drop

in NOAD2 as derivative of noun name-dropping

23. to windsurf, add bodysurf (4/5/09)

24. scuba dive

AZ, 4/5/09: scuba dove?:

25. teleprompt

from OED2, under teleprompter:

Hence (as a back-formation) teleprompt v. trans., to assist by means of a teleprompter. Also teleprompted ppl. a., assisted by or by means of a teleprompter.

1956 Sun (Baltimore) 29 Aug. (B ed.) 14/2 Two weeks of nominations,..commentaries, teleprompted oratory and gavel-thumping. 1958 Spectator 18 July 87/1 Does my conscience need tele-prompting? 1960 Time 16 Nov. (Extra ed.) 15/1 The 1960 campaign had been televised, teleguided, teleprompted and telephoned as no other had been before.

[AMZ 4/28/09: also intransitive uses, e.g.:

People trust my integrity by hiring me to teleprompt throughout Northern California and around the world.

The question isn’t to teleprompt or not to teleprompt. The question is whether or not the President can put a sentence together and sound intelligent.

I’m always ready to travel, am a team player and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to teleprompt. Editing copy, making changes and deadlines are my life.

To top it all off, I found out that the shoot I have to teleprompt on tomorrow will pull me out of the office all day, which I really can’t afford time-wise …
http://www.skyekat.com/blog/?p=689 ]

26. teleport (noted by Ned Deily 4/28/09), also in OED2, under teleportation:

Hence (as a back-formation) teleport v. (a) intr., to convey oneself by teleportation; (b) trans., to convey by teleportation; also absol.; teleporting ppl. a. and vbl. n.; also teleport n., one who practises teleportation; teleportage rare = TELEPORTATION; teleportative a. rare, pertaining to teleportation.

1931 Teleportative [see TELEPORTATION]. 1951 ‘J. WYNDHAM’ in Science-Fantasy Winter 5 If there could be teleportation, or teleportage, or whatever it is. Ibid. 6 This teleporting guy. 1953 ‘T. STURGEON’ More than Human III. 204 Bonnie and Beanie can’t carry so much as a toothpick with them when they teleport, let alone clothes. 1954-5 Planet Stories Winter 26 It might teleport him, too, if he attracted its attention. 1955 Astounding Sci. Fiction Feb. 11 The Martian was back in the chair again. ‘It’s not teleportation. We don’t teleport.’ 1960 Analog Science Fact & Fiction Nov. 41/2 After all, he’d found telepaths in insane asylums, and teleports among the juvenile delinquents of New York. 1965 New Statesman 5 Nov. 705/2 So we must adjust to instant teleporting from Raspail Métro to the Donnybrook tram by way of Strangeways Gaol. 1967 E. B. NICKERSON Kayaks to Arctic ix. 79 It was a steep bushy bank but he [sc. a bear] made it as if teleported and did not rustle even a leaf. 1979 B. SHAW Dagger of Mind vii. 116 Albert can teleport people… Miss Connie..does it with objects. Psychokinesis.

27. roller-coast

in OED2, in roller entry:

… hence (as back-formation) roller-coast vb. trans. and intr.

reported by Neal Whitman in


with the example:

…thought Alex as she roller-coasted from one [wave] to the next.

28. name-check

AMZ to ADS-L 5/11/09:

from a correspondent whose name i mentioned in a posting:

… it’s an honor to be name-checked by you.

this is a back-formation from a compound noun “name-checking” (parallel to “name-drop” back-formed from the compound “name-dropping” ‘dropping names’), in the sense ‘mention someone less famous than you’, so being name-checked (in my correspondent’s usage) is being mentioned by someone more famous than you. in this usage, it’s the social inverse of “name-drop” (and “name-checking” is the social inverse of “name-dropping”).

(all the expressions i’m going to talk about here are sometimes written with hyphens, sometimes as separated words, and sometimes solid.)

but there’s more.

to start with, there’s another, much more transparent (and presumably much older) use of the compound noun “name-checking” ‘checking names’ (in ordinary english and in specialized technical uses in computer contexts). such a use, being so transparent, is not in the OED, though the June 2003 draft revision does have the compound noun “namecheck”, glossed as:

orig. and chiefly U.S. An official check on a person’s credentials, esp. for reasons of security or criminal investigation

and there’s now a back-formed verb “namecheck” in this sense (though it’s not yet in the OED), as in:

do you know anything about the way to contact fbi to name check oursevles? [that is, check our own names] have you heard about that?

so much for the more transparent uses of these expressions. now on to the family of ‘mention’ uses, of which my correspondent’s use above is one.

things seem to have begun with a generalized ‘mention’ sense of “checking” and “check. the OED (June 2003) has the noun “namecheck” in this sense (‘A public mention or listing of the name of a person or thing, esp. in acknowledgement of an individual contribution or for
publicity purposes; an acknowledgement by name’), with cites from 1972 through 1996, both british and american.

already in this definition is the idea of not only mentioning, but *singling out* for mention. this component continues in some uses of the back-formed verb “namecheck”, as in this comment on the website

I think it’s the responsibilty of the players themselves and the public to deal with someone coming out. I think it’s a bit strange to name check certain players [Federer, Nadal] as if they are holding people back because they don’t fly the rainbow flag prior to someone coming out.


this in response to:

[Billie Jean] King also says that while she’s known gay male tennis players, there needs to be support from the athletes at the top of the game for them to be able to come out … [King mentions Federer and Nadal as two relevant athletes at the top of the game]


the OED has a treatment (June 2008) of the generalized ‘mention’ sense of the *verb*: ‘to mention or acknowledge by name’, with cites from 1986 through 1999.

at this point, things get much more complicated. the Urban Dictionary lists two more specialized senses for “namecheck(ing)”, which unfortunately are virtually opposites of one another: in my
correspondent’s use as above, and as a rough synonym for “namedrop(ping)”, as in the following review of a Chris Cagle album:

Cagle delivers a decent country performance on the title track that goes on to name-check too many artists … [verb use]

and in this comment on it:

I would actually single out the same three tracks at the end, with the same caveat about too much name-checking. Name-checking is a pet peeve of mine. [noun use]


there are also a modest number of cites about rappers’ name-checking various famous people, cites in which it’s not entirely clear that the mentions of these people count as name-dropping (or are simply references to people in the news), as in:

And, the medal for fastest rapper to name-check [Olympic gold medalist] Usain Bolt goes to… [Wale]

… On a related note, Wale may also hold the record for the first rapper to name-check Michael Phelps, way back in 2005


now posted here:

29. child-mind
OED (draft rev. June 2005) has the N child-minding from 1919, back-formed child-mind trans. from 1969, intrans. from 1975

30. child-rear

googled 6/7/09:

If you decide that you’re going to bring a child into the world and you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time to discuss your values about how you want to child rear. (2008)

In a key substantive due process case which considered the right to child-rear, … the United States Supreme Court stated … (1999)

31. child-bear

suggested by Ian Preston in a comment on

It became obvious that a gestational carrier and an egg donor were our only viable options. Who was going to carry our baby? Where were we going to get an egg? Our mothers and my sisters were too old to child-bear and certainly couldn’t offer up an egg.

fair number of others, e.g.:
I know that these modern medicines and technologies gives us better ways to keep healthier and safer, but I cannot help but wonder how these women before us did it? Didn’t god give us the necessary tools to child-bear?

32. another comment from Ian Preston (on my “inventory” posting), with items to catalogue
June 9, 2009 at 11:03 am

Some more that occurred to me, in no particular order, all attested as verb phrases by Google searches: to time waste, to time manage, to lion tame, to horse ride, to horse race, to fox hunt, to snake charm, to sex offend, to drug traffic, to ball tamper, to arse lick, to shit stir, to shape shift, to happy slap, to arm wrestle, to lane hog, to clock watch, to hill climb, to fell walk, to cliff hang, to draft dodge, to house sit, to grave rob, to penny pinch, …

still another:

I find that if you just think of established terms of the form X-Ying or X-Yer then as often as not you can get an example out of it: strap hang, loss adjust, rock climb, … Perhaps it is more informative to find the examples that don’t work and ask why. Why is it that “nail clipper” or “goal scorer”, say, don’t seem to yield back-formed verb phrases when “hair dryer” and “goal keeper” do?

partial response in
[http://arnoldzwicky.org/2009/06/09/back-formings/] :

Ah, but the verb nail clip is attested:
>How often to nail clip and bathe a housepet Beagle? She’s 2yo and I have rescued her. (link)<
The examples of goal score I’ve found are not very clear. But wait a while and a good one will probably turn up.

33. from ordinary noun-noun compounds:


[found 6/10/09] So this must not be the David & Mary who had a child in Gaspe in 1820…….blows holes right thru’ my ‘story’ doesn’t it?…….unless they had married before a JP prior to clergy arriving in Gaspe c. 1819…..but if that were the case they could have church married at the time of their daughter’s baptism…

34. fence-mend

[found 6/10/09]

Well, the criminal George Bush … is off to Europe to fence-mend, Sunday Feb 20th. For those Europeans here …

Prognosticating on Obama’s ability to fence mend got me thinking …

35. parallel park

noted 6/10/09 (and many examples googled up)

36. handwring

Gary Vellenzer comment on “inventory” posting on my blog, 6/11/09:

There’s no need to handwring about keeping the inventory uptodate.

37. suggested 6/11/09 from OED by Ben Zimmer:

star-gaze from 1626

fly-fish from 1755

sun-bathe from 1941

[many many more in OED]

38. peeveblog


39. civil marry

If the person is under going conversion and during the conversion process they meet that is a different story but they have to wait and should not civil marry.

A LDS man who gets a civil divorce doesn’t have to unseal himself from his previous wife to civil marry and be sealed to a new wife.


40. free-climb

Craziness was also necessary. Mr. Bachar’s fellow-climbers often thought him mad-mad to free-climb on faces such as the 400-foot New Dimensions in Yosemite, …
(obituary for John Bachar, The Economist, 7/18/09, p. 84)

(free-climbing, free-climber)

41. name-call

Michael Medved Continues To Name-Call, Smear Constitution Party Revealing His Own Godless, Failed Vision.

But anyone with an ounce of sense would know what he meant when he name-called Maddow.

(googled 8/17/09; tons more)

52. emergency manage

Then when I have handled everything….WHAM….my tirggers go off and I fall apart. Then I have to emergency manage myself.

(googled 8/25/09)

53. face-punch

“I will personally face-punch anyone who stands in the way of this film being released.”
(Spike Jonze, quoted by Saki Knafo in “Wild Life”, NYT Magazine 9/6/09, p. 30)

54. body-search (googled 9/12/09)

Foreign journalists were body-searched by airport police.

After passing through the metal detector, then a security guard will body-search you some more.

55. eve-tease


56. cock-suck

These girls will learn how to cock suck, pussy pump, ass fuck and much more with the help of Mr. Ferrara and friends, enjoy!
[and pussy pump and ass fuck]

I have no idea where she learned how to cock suck, but I wish all women went there.

Interests: like to cock suck and have 3some
Role: Either/Or/Versatile
Sexuality: Gay

Twink gets to cock suck two hot guys

[used for cunnilingus as well as fellatio]

[intransitive uses and transitive as well, as in cock-suck someone]

cf. semantics of cock-suck with expressions with cock as separate word:
penis-as-type: suck cock, looking for/want/need/… cock [indifferent as to number]

vs. penis-as-thing: suck a cock/someone’s cock/cocks, looking for/etc. a cock, cocks

57. shirt-lift: see shirt-lift.doc


58. ass-fuck (see #56 above)

in Sheidlower 2009:4, with senses ‘to engage in anal copulation [with]’ (cites from 1940 on) and figurative ‘to victimize cruelly’ (cites from 1980 on)

59. motherfuck:

in Sheidlower 2009:221f., with two families of senses: a cursing ‘God damn, to hell with’ (as in, “mother fuck it/you”, with cites from 1942 on); and ‘to destroy, confuse, fuck up; to treat with hostility, insult’ (with cites from 1975 on)

60. ass-eat ‘rim’, face-fuck:

googled 9/27/09:

Like to ass eat, rim, have my face sat on. Also like to have my cock sucked, and to be face fucked.
Top also.

61. house-buy googled 10/6/09:

If you want to house buy with bad credit you will probably have to go through an online lender to get the financing you need.

My son has just checked his credit rating as he and his partner plan to house buy next year.

62. bill-pay googled 10/6/09:

Most banks have a huge list of companies you can select from, and if the company you want to bill pay online with is not there you can enter it in manually.

When the bill form opens select your BOA account as the payment account and see if Electronic Payment is a payment option. If it is, you can bill pay out of your BOA account.

63. brain-scan googled 10/10/09:

First, “the associate,” as the customer was called, was brain-scanned with sophisticated machinery that could determine his or her innermost desires.

From the lovely folks who want to brain scan you

64. party-poop (< party-pooper)

from http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/hate-to-poop-the-party/

65. back-formations with first element deep ‘deep(ly)’: many examples, of each of a number of compounds with different second elements, e.g.:


The data that is currently on offer is very difficult to navigate to “deeper” levels. Better visualizations should be provided to allow the user to deep-dive into components and services and examine the relevant data.


This may sound weird, but it actually worked for me when I had to deep drill a precision hole.


“Because I can deep throat, and because I’ve always been able to deep throat, it never occurred to me that using my hand wasn’t cheating.”

66. fund-raise:

How to Fund Raise Effectively for a Nonprofit Organization

[many hits 11/16/09]


67. nation-build:

How to Nation-Build
by Zalmay Khalizad

[huge number of hits 12/3/09]

68. queen-wave:


69. shoplift:

attested in OED2 in clearly verbal uses (other than in shoplifting) in 20th century

booklift ‘steal books’:


70. tear-jerk:

January 2010 ADS-L discussion of tear-jerking ‘profoundly moving’, with posting by Neal Whitman on 1/6/10:

Once I saw that, I had to do a search on “tear-jerked”, and wasn’t disappointed. Here’s one; there are more:

There are casualties, so obviously I am going to be tear-jerked. Starring Mel Gibson, and out in theaters now, this is a must see weeper.


71. showrun: (see #9)


the first thing I wanted to do after learning about this new word was to see if the by-now-all-too-familiar reanalysis-plus-backformation process had created showrun as a new verb. Answer: Yes, it has! For example, a headline from Variety from July 6, 2009 says

>Josh Bycel to help showrun ‘Scrubs’<

The story’s lead backs up Glen’s explanation: “Scribe Josh Bycel will help perform surgery on ABC’s “Scrubs,” signing on as the show’s new executive producer.” Not only has showrun come into being as a verb via backformation, it has even progressed far enough to re-open the direct-object slot that show once filled, allowing it to be filled with the name of a particular show. Furthermore, we get a bonus with this backformation, occurring as it does with an irregular verb: We can also ask if we get the irregular past tense showran. Again, we do. This is from a forum thread discussing The Simpsons:

>Other than the two episodes he showran, how much influence did David Mirkin have on the show in season 7?<

72. home-school:

either back-formed from home-schooling or nouned directly from the compound home school; see the synthetic compounds file

in a further development, noted by Ron Hardin in a comment on my blog on my posting “Dilating eye teeth” (3/22/10), the Onion produced a wonderful story, beginning:


Increasing Number of Parents Opting To Have Children School-Homed

WASHINGTON—According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education, an increasing number of American parents are choosing to have their children raised at school rather than at home.

Deputy Education Secretary Anthony W. Miller said that many parents who school-home find U.S. households to be frightening, overwhelming environments for their children, and feel that they are just not conducive to producing well-rounded members of society.
[http://www.news-blogg.com/increasing-number-of-parents-opting-to-have-children-school-homed/] [among other places]


with home and school exchanged in a bit of language play


73. travel-write:

We wouldn’t travel write about South Africa. We won’t travel write about Burma. And now we won’t help entice visitors to Arizona.
(travel writer Jules Older, speaking for himself and his collaborator wife, in opinion piece on KQED 4/30 /10 re travel writing about Arizona, the Sonoran desert in particular, in light of the Arizona state legislature passing a law requiring that suspected undocumented aliens be able to prove that they are in the state legally)

many exx googled 5/1/10, e.g.:

Attend V!VA’s Travel Writing Boot Camps
Learn to Travel Write. Get Published. Get Paid.

Everyone is a local somewhere. You need not travel across the world to travel write.

(plus many for the website Travel-Write.com)


74. commercial fish:

It’s in my heart to commercial fish.
(LA fisherman interviewed by BBC, 6/4/10)

75. captive-breed:

caught in a radio interview 6/29/10, on the fly; lots of examples on the net

the five easiest fish to get to captive breed

I would be interested though in Why you would want to captive breed these huge catfish?

[from captive breeding and/or captive-bred (Adj)]

76. speed-date:
[from speed-dating; huge number of hits]

What is is like to speed date?

At our speed dating singles events held in upmarket bars you get to speed date 10 – 15 people.

I Speed Dated @ Cal Poly and it was the shiznit

77. carbon-date:
[from carbon-dating and/or carbon-dated; lots of hits]

It is not possible to carbon date rocks.


78. catwalk < catwalking ‘walking the cat’ (referring to a specific bicycle or motorcycle stunt)

(googled 9/12/10)

… but yet theres so many flat long 3 lane roads that just taunt u. i cant even remember the last time i catwalked on the streets.,bummer city.
comment on http://www.stuntride.com/vbstunt/showthread.php?p=667515

[transitive] As I approached Robinston, Maine the skies parted and Geoff Slater met me as we catwalked our bikes for a few hundred meters before clapping our tired together blades of steel style before we continued on towards home.

might also be a use backformed from catwalker ‘someone who walks cats’

79. dogwalk < dogwalker

(googled 9/12/10)

A graduate of Kenyon College (where I dogwalked for several professors), I am adamant that dogs bring out the best in people with their honesty, effusiveness, and ability to be in the moment.

[transitive] I have two puppies that are dogwalked by Alana daily.

now for 78/79: http://arnoldzwicky.org/2010/09/12/data-points-verbing-back-formation-91210/

80. track change:

From: Nancy Friedman ‪‬
Date: Mon, Jan 17, 2011
Subject: interesting back-formation
To: Ben Zimmer

“Every single word of this news release was track changed, stetted, then track changed again to its original draft.”


BZ 1/17/11:

Seems pretty idiosyncratic. I see only one example of “was track changed” on Google that doesn’t come from the “most amazing” press release.

“The revision point was track changed in the track change version.”

81. homeat, home-eat:


82. home-make < home-made

How to Home Make Your Own Baby Food

How much Jute is needed to home-make a ghillie suit?

Dominique, your Chef, has long experienced cooking for vegetarians. Other than the fact that she home makes most of her specialties from fresh, generally organic products, when cooking for vegetarians she also works with Gluten “meat” (seitan) often home made and knows her way with grains, nuts, seaweeds, beans and tofu.

and many many more

83. page-turn:


84. fault-find:

Jon Lighter on ADS-L 4/15/11:

fault-find v. to find fault: “If you fault-find…” [No OED; 20,000 raw Googlits.]

85. [http://arnoldzwicky.org/2011/04/23/mining-back-formations/]

data mine, data dredge, data fish, data snoop, quote mine

in comments: text mine

86. [http://arnoldzwicky.org/2011/09/29/financial-back-formation/]


87. course-correct

Jon Lighter to ADS-L 10/3/11:

CNN: “How does Rick Perry course-correct?”
Talking Head: “I’m not sure that he *can* course-correct.”

[presumably from course correction]

to course-correct]

88. ice-sculpt, binge drink

Larry Horn to ADS-L 11/3/11:

a couple I’ve noted recently:
(1) “ice-sculpt” (“Did you know he [Phil, the Bill Murray character] could ice-sculpt?”, Groundhog Day)
(2) “binge-drank”

89. smoke-jump

“When I was growing up there was the mill, the fish hatchery and other stuff like that,” Mr. Longanecker said. “And I remember going, ‘I think I want to smoke-jump.’”
(William Yardley, “Now Earthbound, After Years Of Fighting Wind and Fire”, NYT 10/3/11, p. A10)

90. legal observe

“Boston police usually respect our legal observers. And they usually leave us alone… I was legal observing. I wasn’t even chanting anything. … Four officers grabbed me and dragged me. I begged them to stop, [told them that that] they were hurting me. I have no idea why they arrested us with such force.’’ — Urszula Masny-Latos, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild
(from Jed Davis on Google+ 10/11/11)

91. ritual bury

You can use this command whilst in combat, but unless you are a Sekkite it will be harder and take longer. It takes longer for a Sekkite to ritual bury if they are not in combat at the time.

(in alternation with ritually bury on this site)

92. recess appoint:

from Ben Zimmer 1/3/12:

I see Matt Gordon mentioned it on ADS-L back in ’05, but here it is in case you didn’t have it in your backformation files:

The rationale is quite technical, but here’s the bottom line: one reading of the Constitution and of executive branch administrative law suggest that today is Obama’s last day to recess appoint any of his languishing nominees, at least until the next time the Senate leaves town several weeks from now.

93. pleasure read from Neal Whitman on ADS-L 1/24/12:

From my son’s language arts teacher, in an email:

The “Read In” is a period where the students camp out around the room and pleasure read.

94. pinpoint-strike from Jon Lighter on ADS-L 1/31/12:

CNN says that U.S. drones can “pinpoint-strike targets.”

95. monkey-spank:


96. password protect:

Jon Lighter in ADS-L 2/22/12:

“Password protect your home and mobile devices. Avoid exposing personal information that can be used by someone else for identity verification.”

Observe the lack of a hyphen.

[from password protected or password protection]

97. saber-rattle:

Jon Lighter in ADS-L 3/6/12:

CNN: “It’s easy to saber-rattle when you’re not in the Oval Office.”
41,000 hits.

98. comfort eat:

Let’s be clear, this was not healthy eating. The Japanese know how to comfort eat as well as, I would argue even better than, the rest of us.
(Michael Booth, Sushi and Beyond, p. 198)

many ghits, e.g.

Overworked Women More Like to Comfort Eat, Study Says

Tis the season to comfort eat

99. basket-weave:

Learn To Basket Weave!
If you always wanted to learn to basket weave, (or are interested) now, here is the place.

[huge number of ghits]

(comic use in underwater basket-weave:

A BA in communications guarantees that you’ll achieve
A little less than if you’d learned to underwater basket-weave )


100. bed-wet:
What causes adults to bed wet at night?

What is the cause for me to bed wet and poop ?

She still bed wets!

and many more

101. breath-hold:
Wilson Gray on ADS-L 5/22/12:
Heard on The Doctors: “breath-hold”

An ER pediatrician says:
“Sometimes children _breath-hold_ and you never do find out what the reason is.”

102. flower-arrange:
many many hits on 5/25/12:

Joseph Knows How to….Flower Arrange?
Who knew? It was closing night of my last dance performance at UCSC, and Joseph had picked and arranged flowers for me as a surprise!

How To Flower Arrange?

International Center Volunteer Melva Gordon Teaches and Flower Arranges to her Heart’s Content

[in #8] back-stab:
back-stab v. [as a back-formation.]
1925 Chambers’s Jrnl. Dec. 863/2, I, after befriending her brother..had seemed to back-stab.

ad for new Dallas, June 2012, [roughly] nobody backstabs like the Ewings

103. emergency-land:

Jon Lighter to ADS-L 8/13/12:
“Hamster causes a plane to emergency land.”

104. executive-produce (#4 above), open carry, concealed carry, way-find

105. lie-detect
from Wilson Gray on ADS-L 11/12/12:
Dialog: “You can _lie-detect_ me!”
An ad:
“Shocking Liar Electric Shock _Lie Detect_ Detector Truth Or Dare Game Toy!”
[Since it does deliver a real electric shock, get one for the kids for Holiday *now*, before they’re pulled off the shelves.]
19,200 raw hits

How to Lie detect by recognizing eye movement

Blogs about: How To Lie Detect Lies

and many more

106. star-fuck < star-fucker, star-fucking

The infatuated fan waits like a stagedoor Johnny hoping to realize his dream of meeting his hero, and better yet, getting starfucked by Stryker’s monster cock.

107. to hard-hit

108. to slut-shame, victim-blame, sexual harrass

109. to truth-tell, go-go dance

110. to spit-roast

111. Laurence Horn to ADS-L 5/2/13
Subject: back-formation of the day
“It’s not our policy to patient-dump”.

–Las Vegas mental hospital spokesman, unconvincingly attempting to refute evidence that his hospital has done exactly that, giving dozens of patients bus tickets to get out of town, and state, interviewed on ABC news segment on patient dumping

(Not exactly new; there are a few dozen earlier hits for the back-formed verb.)

112. (16) new items from Whitman.backform.docx:

 …just imagine what’s going to happen when the market takes away our ability to deficit-spend.
 One junior uniformed officer and one administration clerk were elder-abusing me.
Ever Facebook-stalk an ex to see whom he or she has been messaging with?
[Bonus! The backformed retronym straight marry.]
In Germany, it is a criminal offense to use freedom of speech to Holocaust-deny.
 As bad as I would feel for someone who illegal-immigrated 25 years ago and has kids born and raised here…
 The 250,000 jobs man would have his opportunity to job-create.
Meanwhile, Paul Tracy romped to the victory that kick-started his championship season.
 We have to level-set expectations up front.
 And they didn’t just commit the act once; they money-laundered repeatedly over the course of several years.
 …it’s because VZW doesn’t network-optimize 4G devices at this time…
 Rather than trying to union-bust from within, would it not be more practical to remove the elements that make employees vote them in to begin with?
 …the Democratic Convention celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden and victory-danced to cries of “al Qaeda is no more.”
 Your brother stole money from the company, and regardless of whether he whistle-blew on himself and offered to pay it back, its still stealing.
btw, I youtube-searched “fat italian woman” and this was one of the results.
Oh, you hate zero-tolerance except when they zero tolerate stuff you hate.

113. to gay-flirt:

114. to pied-pipe:

115. to onion-peel:

116. to truck-chase, ambulance-chase:
from Victor Steinbok on ADS-L, 8/3/13:

Spotted on Beer Advocate Forums. As in, “I’m not going to truck chase those whales any more!” (Whale = rare important special release, BA jargon after legal and gambling use of “whales” = wealthy/high-impact clients)

Truck-chaser is like an ambulance-chaser only for beer — people who camp out near a liquor store on release dates, waiting for the truck to pull up with the latest deliveries. Not sure if ambulance-chase is used as a verb in the wild (?He refused to ambulance chase for a living — compare, He refused to be an ambulance-chaser for a living.), but, of course, ambulance-chasing (adj. — e.g., ambulance-chasing litigator) and ambulance chasing (n. — activity; e.g., the firm is regularly involved in ambulance chasing) are regulars (along with truck-chasing).

117. to harsh-parent:
from Jan Freeman in e-mail, 8/5/13:

Heard this story on NPR news tonight. It’s not in the (non)-transcript, but at 1:49 a researcher says moms with one genetic variant are “more likely to harsh-parent.”


118. to bad kiss


119. to scat sing


120. to ballhawk


121. to barefoot-run

Jon Lighter to ADS-L 11/3/13:
So these two science PhDs come on CNN:
SANJAY GUPTA: You barefoot-run?
DANIEL LIEBERMAN: I love to barefoot-run.

122. to freedom-fight

123. to Black Friday shop
X-shop #8

124. to community-police
Jon Lighter on ADS-L 5/23/15:
Another in the endless and unstoppable creation of nonce verbs.
CNN was discussing “community policing.” The question then was asked, “Are you saying the police department in Cleveland doesn’t know how to community-police?”

125. to backseat drive
David Barnhart on ADS-L
Just heard from one 20-something to another:
“You don’t need to backseat drive!”

New Ford feature allows parents to backseat drive, remotely

126. to king-make

Dan Goncharoff on ADS-L 6/3/15
“King-make”, v.
Heard on CBS This Morning, referring to Sep Blatter’s intention to remain
with FIFA until his successor is determined.

127. to bounty hunt, to bail chase

Jon Lighter on ADS-L 6/9/15
Promo for cable series “Bail Chasers”:
“We don’t just bounty hunt!
We bail chase!”

128. to drunk-drive

Jon Lighter on ADS-L 7/18/15

with response from Larry Horn and me; see


129. to nude-sunbathe

Larry Horn in ADS-L, as in #128

130. to word vomit, to reckless drive, to low-crawl

Jon Lighter in ADS-L 7/21/15:

Here’s what a Republican “strategist” just told CNN…at least up to the point where my brain shut down:

“Donald Trump never apologizes for anything.  He just word vomits and then….”

… A direct antecedent of “to reckless drive” is “to low-crawl,” which is universal in the armed forces. I don’t know if it antedates the VN War, though.



132. NYT Sunday Review, 8/2/15, p. 2, inteview with Vahé Alaverdian.

VA: I have been living off the land for the last 21 years. That is, I haven’t purchased any meat, poultry or fish. I archery hunt big game, fly fish for salmon and trout, and the falcons hunt all the fowl.

[fly fish already in the inventory; archery hunt is new]

133. [http://arnoldzwicky.org/2015/08/05/culinary-loc-v-back-formed-vs/]

20 examples of culinary Loc + V back-formed verbs, with V = ROAST, COOK, FRY, GRILL, TOAST, SMOKE, SEAR

134. 8/15/15 on ADS-L, from George A. Thompson

Just heard, during the radio broadcast of the Yankees game this afternoon. Suzyn [I think] Waldman said that [nomen], the official scorer at the Red Sox game, had just texted her to respond to something she had said earlier. John Sterling: “He’s official-scoring the Red Sox game and is listening to us?!”

[official scorer yields to official-score]

135. http://arnoldzwicky.org/2015/08/17/adjs-in-2pbfvs/

to situational-hit (and other 2pbfVs with Adjs as first elements)

136. from Wilson Gray on ADS-L, pointer to this page:


Carlo Ponti, Jr. (born 29 December 1968[1]) is an Italian orchestral conductor working in the United States. His parents are late film producer Carlo Ponti, Sr. and Italian movie star Sophia Loren and his brother is film director Edoardo Ponti.

He has guest conducted internationally, was the recipient of various awards …

to guest conduct < guest conductor

137. to stress-eat < synthetic compound stress eating ‘eating (while) under stress’ (to relieve the stress)

ADS-L 9/22/15 Jonathan Lighter:

2015 The Muppets (ABC-TV) (Sept. 22): When I’m under pressure, I stress-eat.

138. to horseback-ride < horseback-riding

ADS-L 10/5/15 Wilson Gray:

Heard: “I can horseback-ride.” “I can ride horseback” isn’t clear enough, I guess.

139. from Jon Lighter on ADS-L: to music-direct


140. to rabble-rouse: reported by Larry Horn on ADS-L, posted about here:


141. to shape-shift (in #32): reported by Jon Lighter on ADS-L, posted about here:


142. to sport hunt: reported by Wilson Gray on ADS-L 2/2/16:

“We cannot let the USFWS take them off the endangered species list and allow the Yellowstone grizzlies _to be sport hunted_ once again.” (E-mail from Care2 Petitions)

via synthetic compound sport-hunting ‘hunting for sport’ (and possibly sport-hunter)

143. to cake-bake

On Feb 12, 2016, at 8:26 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

Subject: to cake-bake – BrE-
I stumbled across an example of this verb from across the Pond on season one, episode one of “The Great British Bake Off.”

The citation is at 29:50 (http://bit.ly/1oc7alC) “began cake-baking” but slightly before that is an instance of “cake-baking” as a noun, which perhaps primes the narrator.

AMZ: What you have here is not yet the verb “to cake-bake”, but just the PRP synthetic compound “cake-baking” (you can also find the agentive synthetic compound “cake-baker”). From these you could get a back-formed verb, in the BSE form “to cake-bake” or in various finite forms: “they cake-bake”, “cake-bakes”, or “cake-baked”. These are hard to find, but I did get one hit (also British, for what it’s worth):

Scouts and Guides at UWE – UWE Bristol – University of the West of England
“Freshers Camp” 10/6/15:
So Kate, Harry and Beatrice hopped in the car and went to asda to get some cake mix. Then around an hour later they returned with cake mix and icing. They made the cake mix and dished it onto small metal containers and put them into the camp oven. And so the cooking began.
Derek: Well they cake baked.. so triumph but it tasted really quite a bit smokey.. so fail.

144. [https://arnoldzwicky.org/2017/05/25/1-bizarro-2-bizarro/]
to ice-fish

145. [https://arnoldzwicky.org/2017/07/04/another-prohibition-on-tipping/]
to fly-tip

146. [https://arnoldzwicky.org/2017/12/23/they-kitchen-kissed-again/]
to kitchen-kiss

147. [https://arnoldzwicky.org/2017/12/26/to-pizza-make/]
to pizza-make

148. [https://arnoldzwicky.org/2018/03/27/v-headed-compounds/]
to snowblow

149. [https://arnoldzwicky.org/2018/03/27/v-headed-compounds/]
to treasure-hunt

150.  to storm-chase

Larry Horn to ADS-L 5/17/18:

This is another one of those back-formations that’s really more specialized than the phrase it replaces.  A young woman, didn’t catch her name, was describing her adventures atop Sleeping Giant Park in here Hamden, CT, where she got amazing photos (shown on the news segment) of the storm hitting the area around the stone tower in the park where she was waiting out the storm (high winds, rain, tornadoes).  She acknowledged that it was the scariest experience she had ever had, but it was also a real rush, and when she was asked if she would do it again she replied

“If the opportunity ever presented itself, I would drop what I was doing and storm-chase”

As I read it, to storm-chase is not just to chase storms but to apply one’s skill, in particular photographic skill, to track down major and ideally life-threatening storms, i.e. to engage in storm-chasing:

“the pursuit of any severe weather condition, regardless of motive, which can be curiosity, adventure, scientific investigation, or for news or media coverage”.

I could chase storms as an amateur, but that in itself wouldn’t qualify me as a storm-chaser, or as having storm-chased.

151. to finger-stick

tv commercial for a blood glucose testing device, caught 7/23/19: Why finger-stick when you can scan?

152. to gate-crash

153. to eye-fuck

image #3 caption: JD writes: Here’s an old photo of me, just in case I’ve never eye-fucked you.

154. to cross-dress

OED2 entry: verb cross-dress: [as a back-formation] (intransitive) to dress in clothes of the opposite sex, as a transvestite

155. to family-plan

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