>> What word means "to verb"?  Is there a dictionary term that
>> describes the use of "verb" in:
>>   "In the English language, every word can be verbed"?

>As either Calvin or Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes = a US comic strip
>(trying not to be provincial here)) put it, "Verbing Weirds Language."
The phenomenon doesn't have a special name in English linguistics, but verbing is a good self-demonstrating mnemonic name, so why not use it?

There is a name for verbing and nouning and otherwise changing the Word Class (or, as word class was called in Latinate grammar, part of speech) without benefit of suffix. It's called Zero Derivation. That means that, instead of taking the usual route of adding a derivational suffix to change word class, one adds Zero, like the Zero that marks the past tense on He cut the ribbon.

I.e, instead of

decide (v) --> decision (n),
you get
address (v) --> address (n)
[though the stress, indicated by boldface, can differentiate them]
or, even more Zero,
turn (v) --> turn (n)
English has lost a lot of inflection and also derivation (the two different kinds of morphology); and derivational morphology is what usually negotiates between word classes. In many languages (Russian, for example), it isn't so much that there are nouns and verbs as it is that there are roots and you can do either nouny or verby things to them.

English goes to the other extreme (it's an analytic language, not an inflected (or synthetic) one like Russian). We don't make a big fuss in English any more about the difference between a verb and a noun. Both are overwhelmingly regular in conjugation or declension (what there is of either). And we get most of our grammar from collocations, particle and auxiliary choice, and word order, instead of inflection.

So English is more like Chinese than most other Indo-European languages in this regard, though of course the details are quite different.

"Verbing Weirds Language" only if you're expecting it to work in a simple way.
This is a special case of the more general truth that Language Weirds.

  - John Lawler       Linguistics Department and Residential College     University of Michigan

    "Language is the most  massive  and  inclusive  art  we know,  a           - Edward Sapir
      mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations."       Language (1921)

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