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Usage Notes

When Body Parts Are Also Verbs

Head, shoulders, metaphors, and toes

Editor Peter Sokolowski breaks down a number of body parts with metaphorical uses as verbs, from head to toe.


Many parts of the body can be used as verbs in either a physical or a metaphorical sense. You can head a company, but if things go wrong you'll have to shoulder the blame, or face your investors. A good leader backs their employees, but if you don't toe the line you might get skinned. Did you muscle your way into that job? You might eye someone suspiciously, or wait for the police to finger a suspect. But if you need to get out of town, try thumbing a ride. You can ride with me if you can stomach the thought. I don't always sing along to the radio, but you might see me mouthing the words.

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When Body Parts Are Also Verbs


Head, shoulders, metaphors, and toes

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