To drink a drink - when nouns become verbs

Close-up of friends toasting glasses of cocktails
"Drink" is a noun that became a verb long ago.

Verbing—changing nouns into verbs—is happening so fast these days that non-native speakers can struggle to keep up. The rapid rate of change in technology means we email someone instead of sending an email to them. You skype your far-away family, and google information. If you’ve said such things, then you've used a verbified word.

The business world is another great place for verbing. Business leaders want to sound fresh, innovative, and forward-thinking, and making new verbs out of old nouns is a good way to do so.

Here are a few common examples of business verbing:

  • "Management will greenlight the project." (give permission to begin)
  • "Let's dialogue about it." (discuss)
  • "Inbox me your report." (send by email)
  • "We need to architect the new website." (create the overall design before adding details)

As you can see, it's very easy to change nouns into verbs. Remember to shift the word’s position in the sentence. 

I'll take action on that request. [action = noun]


I'll action that request.  [action = verb]

Verbifying words is actually not new. In fact, there are examples as far back as the 1st century CE: "drink" was first used as a noun in the late 800s, and 200 years later it started to be used as a verb, "to drink", a usage we now take for granted. It happens all the time in English.

The simplicity of this can be confusing for non-native speakers—is it really that simple? Yes, it is. However, that doesn’t mean you can verbify any noun you like. Wait for enough native speakers to do it before you join in. Once you hear a few native speakers doing it, then consider the word officially verbified.

verbing [gerund]—the act of changing a noun to a verb.
to verbify [verb] /VERB-ih-fahy/—to change something into a verb.