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: a word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various languages is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect, and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb
verbless adjective


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verbed; verbing

transitive verb

: to use (a word and especially a noun) as a verb : to make (a word) into a verb
A television announcer in Vero Beach, Fla., spoke of a promise "to upkeep the beach," thus verbing a word that had been in use as an honest noun since 1884. James Kilpatrick
But it is by no means unusual for a noun to be verbed. Theodore M. Bernstein

Did you know?

What is a verb?

Verbs are words that show an action (sing), occurrence (develop), or state of being (exist). Almost every sentence requires a verb. The basic form of a verb is known as its infinitive. The forms call, love, break, and go are all infinitives.

Almost all verbs have two other important forms called participles. Participles are forms that are used to create several verb tenses (forms that are used to show when an action happened); they can also be used as adjectives. The present participle always ends in -ing: calling, loving, breaking, going. (There is also a kind of noun, called a gerund, that is identical in form to the present participle form of a verb.) The past participle usually ends in -ed, but many past participles have irregular endings: called, loved, broken, gone.

The verb's past tense usually has the same -ed form as the past participle. For many verbs, however, the past tense is irregular. An irregular past tense is not always identical to an irregular past participle: called, loved, broke, went.

The two main kinds of verbs, transitive verbs and intransitive verbs, are discussed at the entries for transitive and intransitive.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Suffering is so intertwined with sports that the verb is a favorite in headlines. Fidel Martinez, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2022 Criminal Minds is a gigantic streaming hit that was created before streaming was a verb. Jessica Wang,, 13 Sep. 2022 For him, faith was a verb, something fulfilled in the daily doing of what needed to be done. Danny Heitman, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Visitors can look up how to translate a word, see the plural form of the word, change the tense of a verb or add an adjective to a noun. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Aug. 2022 Ordinary English subject-verb word order is marginalized, often in favor of lonely, attenuated prepositional phrases standing in for sentences. Pricilla Gilman,, 18 Aug. 2022 Mechanical updates like this feel like Naughty Dog went back to their original creation and infused a tangible way of evoking unease using the all-powerful verb rather than weaving it into the narrative. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 2 Sep. 2022 That is when Artbag, the go-to store for ladies who lunched (when lunch was a verb) and who needed their choicest handbags repaired and restored for those tony lunches, leaves town. New York Times, 15 June 2022 The verb to groom was initially used in the 19th century, first in terms of currying (brushing) and feeding horses. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'verb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English verbe, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin verbum "word, verb" — more at word entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1928, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of verb was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near verb

Cite this Entry

“Verb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


: a word that is usually the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or state of being and that in various languages is inflected (as for agreement with the subject or for tense)

More from Merriam-Webster on verb

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