Mutant Verbs

What verb describes the act of creating a new verb from another part of speech? Verbify, of course — or, simply, verb. Both of these words are autological — that is, they exemplify what they describe. (Other examples of autological words: pentasyllabicadjectival,nominalization.)

Any noun can be verbed. So can many adjectives: we prettify a room,neaten our desk and brown a piece of meat. As Calvin succinctly explains to Hobbes, “Verbing weirds language.”

Like mutants in nature, most newly minted verbs — Mondayize,speechifyCalifornicate — will live for only a short while and perish without progeny. A recent example is the verb Eastwood, which went viral on Twitter and YouTube in the days following Clint Eastwood’s speech to the 2012 Republican National Convention. Within weeks, the fad for Eastwooding — talking to an empty chair — had already petered out.

Mutant Verbs

Lizzy Everett

It never fails. Its like he has a sixth sense. A spider sense, that makes the hair on the back of my dad’s neck stand on end whenever I’m holed up in my room trying to accomplish something. For whatever reason, the electricity that courses through him is compelling enough that he must climb the steep wooden stairs into our attic, rummage through our junk, and chase the ghost of Christmas Past through paper mache tree ornaments made at school, and old car parts. Here I am, trying to be the good girl, the good student, the good daughter with good grades, cuddled into the corner of my bed with my books and the occasional cat, but its impossible with him moving stuff around up there. Continue reading

Will Privacy Go to the Dogs?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized — 4th Amendment, United States Bill of Rights

Drug Sniffing Dog


This Halloween, the United States Supreme Court will devote its day to dogs. The court will hear two cases from Florida to test whether “police dog sniffs” violate our privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. These two cases have not yet grabbed many headlines, but the court’s decisions could shape our rights to privacy in profound and surprising ways.