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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.

Examples of verb in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Initially encountering the phrase in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, Elkin wondered what would happen if it were interpreted as a verb: art that monsters. Josh Zajdman, Vogue, 14 Nov. 2023 The groups could be things like horror movie franchises, a type of verb or rappers. Kris Holt, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 In the artist Eddie Martinez’s dense, polychrome paintings, each mark is haunted by the gesture that made it and each color seems to demand its own verb: The thick gray drips; a bright red streak declares; a daub of blue hesitates. Phoebe Chen, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2023 Most crossword enthusiasts could explain that nouns clue nouns, verbs clue verbs, and so on. Scott Anderbois, The Atlantic, 6 Aug. 2023 The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a past-tense verb. WSJ, 28 Sep. 2023 Noun; adjective; verb. Someone whose style is born from the female gaze. Julissa James, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2023 Praise with verbs Huberman explains it in simple terms: no more nouns. Alexa Mikhail, Fortune Well, 9 Aug. 2023 And so it's always been about sort of keeping it really simple, but also keeping really physical stories, using really physical language, not using concepts like thought verbs, using much more active verbs. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 2 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'verb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 30 Nov. 2023.

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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