I Need A New Verb

I like verbs.    They’re so versatile, really.  Heck,  when it comes to conveying an action you can hardly go wrong using a verb.  And I have to admit that there are in fact actually a lot of verbs out there.   In fact there are even some verbs out there I suspect that can not possibly be construed with a sexual connotation.    The sad fact is however,  that many perfectly solid, respectable verbs can oh so easily find themselves standing in for a four letter word that begins with F and couldn’t used to be said on television.  For example,  to me it was obvious that Poke is a euphemism for phuque,  though I was quite surprised to learn that many of my friends did not regard that verb in that vein at all.   Nail is another verb that seems to me an obvious candidate for bedroom duty.    While it may lead a very useful day time life holding things together (in its noun form) and be a task that any carpenter worth his saw dust excels at,  I kind of doubt that many men would fail to grasp the idea of   “nail her to the bed”.    (Although I suppose a fetishist who enjoys driving steel spikes into flesh might have a very different mental image of this than most.)

My own recent overuse of the verb nail was neither sexual nor sadistic.   But I must admit I was embarrassed when I noticed that two days in a row I posted that a friend had  “nailed topic a” and then “really nailed topic b”.     In the context in which I used it,   “nail”  suggests that the author was particularly effective in identifying and explaining the most pertinent issues in the topics she addressed.  In that sense it was not really a poor word choice.   But it kind of kills me to have shown such redundancy.   I’ve been so lucky as to have a circle of friends,  many of whom seem to genuinely like my great appreciation for words,  and none of whom seem terribly put off by my vocabulary.   But it’s hard to claim eloquence when the evidence shows you apparently couldn’t think of a single synonym.

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32 comments on “I Need A New Verb

  1. Personally, I think you laid things out nicely, got really into it, stuck it to your readers – oh, wait…

    I actually did use a word/verb once that got picked up by others: To Gollum:
    To obsessively and compulsively covet without the ability to enjoy that which you covet. Derived from: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
    http://www.wagreflex.com/2009/02/to-gollum.html

    Don’t think you can use that sexually but have at it! 🙂

  2. Remembering Lene Lovich an 80’s icon, might work. I’m not sure many people can sign along to this song, but it is an homage. How’s that for a new twist. Don’t beat yourself up for making a small mistake at least you are out there doing something.

  3. For the moment, ‘nailed it’ is in style; it’s easy to default to without much thought. Also, it’s got variable meanings even within the context, so there’s not much else you can use in all circumstances: sometimes it means calling it, sometimes it’s understanding it, occasionally it’s acing it, and in cases it’s pwning it.

    I guess just take a second to remember why you’re saying it, and think of other words meaning about the same thing.

  4. I don’t understand why you feel badly or apologetic. I wouldn’t have interpreted “nail” in a sexual way. But then, I take most writing on face value, I don’t look for hidden meanings.

    As far as words with sexual connotations go, I’ve found that with the right inflection, any word can sound sexual. But in print? No, a nail is just a nail.

    • Agree to disagree? Maybe file under Liz is from (your favorite fictional planet), Alan is from Hyphiz Delta? (can’t wait for my Twitter chat tomorrow at this time with Jenn Thorson author of There Goes The Galaxy http://twebevent/tgtg) (And you ARE right of course that with the right inflection– or in print with the right context– Any word can be sexual.)

  5. I don’t generally think in terms of nailing anything. Slamming it home, driving it home, hitting it on the head (Almost nailing it but not quite), or any number of things like that I don’t usually say. I might say this post smacked little Johnny behind the ear, but who would get that? I had a coach that used to tell pitchers they were pumping it really good, and when I pitched my dad used to say I humped it up there with the best of them (In my age group I assume) which now seems totally dirty too.

    In general though, I get what you’re saying and this post flicked my Bic!

    • mmmm. It seems to me that some of the greatest novels have turned on a character’s misconstruing of a word or more likely as Mandy so eloquently points out upthread a phrase. Skilled communicators should rarely speak in any way that can be easily misconstrued and also need to be adept at recognizing when they have been and fixing the mis-communication. #whyactivelisteningissoimportant

  6. Interesting thought on that. I believe using a word on the different meaning the new generation has created is what makes that word ‘in demand’. Another example is the word ‘gay’. Funny thing is that, the word is so often used today but nobody dared to use it anymore and say ‘I am gay’ to express their happiness. lol! Anyhow, cool post Libdrone, you always got me thinking with your ‘mission’ words btw so keep them coming. =)

    • Perhaps. But many of us who never would have felt comfortable using the phrase “I am gay,” to express our sexuality no longer think any thing of it 🙂 (Though honestly it seems many gay people these days have moved on to fighting for marriage equality and look back at coming out and reclaiming the language as relics from a bygone era. Thanks so much for stopping by, Leia.

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