I. What is Anthimeria?
Anthimeria (also known as antimeria) is the usage of a word in a new grammatical form, most often the usage of a noun as a verb.
II. Examples of Anthimeria
Anthimeria is often used in everyday conversation as a form of slang.
I could use a good sleep.
Here, the word “sleep,” usually a verb, is used as a noun.
She headed the ball.
In soccer, “heading” the ball is to hit the ball with one’s forehead.
Don’t forget to hashtag that post.
This is a recent form of anthimeria, as “hashtagging” and “hashtag” have only just recently been added to the lexicon with popular social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram.
III. Types of Anthimeria
Just as slang sometimes becomes everyday accepted language, anthimeria sometimes becomes permanent in use as well. Because of this, there are two types of anthimeria: temporary and permanent.
Temporary anthimeria is anthimeria which may be popular or trendy but which does not become a permanent part of the language. One example of temporary anthimeria is “hashtagging,” as it has only just recently emerged and may or may not last very long.
Permanent anthimeria, on the other hand, is anthimeria which has emerged and become a permanent part of the language. “Texting,” for example, is on the verge of becoming a permanent fixture in our language. “Typing” has become one already.
IV. The Importance of Using Anthimeria
Anthimeria is also known as a conversion or functional shift in grammar studies. This is because anthimeria is a way in which our language transforms and changes over time. Words once designated as nouns or verbs become adjectives or other types of speech. Whereas we tend to think of language as something unchanging, in reality, it is constantly evolving with technology, need, and new poetic ways of saying things.
V. Examples of Anthimeria in Literature
Until then, I’d never liked
petunias, their heavy stems,
the peculiar spittooning sound
of their name. Now I loved
a petunia for all it was worth
—a purplish blue bloom
waving in a red clay pot outside
an office window.
At the beginning of Kate Daniels’ “In the Marvelous Dimension,” the noun spittoon becomes a verb and the color purple becomes a different type of adjective.
For a second example, consider this excerpt from Thomas Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree:
“The parishioners about here,” continued Mrs. Day, not looking at any living being, but snatching up the brown delf tea-things, “are the laziest, gossipest, poachest, jailest set of any ever I came among. And they’ll talk about my teapot and tea-things next, I suppose!”
Hardy was known for his inventiveness, coining words like “tearfuller” and “whosesoever,” and “illest.”
VI. Examples of Anthimeria in Pop Culture
Anthimeria can be found in pop culture from advertising to movie-making to songwriting.
Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking”
Yeah, you keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
And you keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’
Now, what’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet
Sinatra’s song has invented verbs like “trothing” to mirror lying and “saming” to mirror changing.
Searching online is no longer “searching.” Now we “Google.”
Thanks to the Bedazzler (a machine used to fasten rhinestones, studs and patches to clothes and other material) “to bedazzle” is a word.
Bedazzle: (verb) to impress with greatness or skill.
VII. Related Terms
Anthimeria is not the only unique way of reworking words. Here are a few devices similar to anthimeria:
A neologism is a new word, or a word that has recently been invented. While neologisms are not always anthimerias, sometimes they are. Words like nerd, cyberspace, and swagger were once neologisms which have fully been accepted into our lexicon. Many neologisms are also anthimerias. Here are a few examples of neologisms that are also anthimerias:
- Shakespearean: This adjective for works or studies related to Shakespeare is both a neologism and an anthimeria.
- Blog: The neologism “blog” can also be used as a verb as in “to blog” and another noun as in the “blogger” who blogs.
- Spam: Similar to “blog,” spam has come to be known as unwanted emails containing advertisements and viruses, but it can also be used as a verb as in “to spam someone.”
Just as anthimeria can be neologism, verbing can be anthimeria. Verbing, also known as verbification, is a type of anthimeria in which a certain word is transformed into a verb. Here are a few examples of verbing:
- Mouth: as in “He mouthed a message to her.”
- Medal: as in “The Olympian medaled seven times.”
- Debut: as in “They debuted the new movie on Friday.”