Is versing, meaning “competing against someone,” a real verb? In the past thirty years, this term has grown in popularity because versus, when spoken, sounds like a conjugated verb. So youngsters especially will talk about one team getting ready to verse another. Similar things happened with misunderstanding the plural forms of kudos (in ancient Greek, “glory”) and biceps (literally, “two-headed”) — both of those words were originally singular. This is part of a complete episode.

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  1. trusttom says:

    I have always suspected the rise of “versing” as a verb was related to Nintendo’s introduction of their “Vs. Tennis” and various other “Vs.” sports games which just happens to have occurred around 30 years ago:

    http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=10372

    Tom

  2. StevenJ says:

    No more than 30 days ago did I have talk with my 12 year old regarding his frequent use of “versing” and how that word is simply not a word (and grating to my ears!). After hearing this episode I’ve had a change of heart, and he’s resolved to continue to use the word at home and around friends, but to keep it out of school papers and formal conversations. I always appreciate how Grant reminds us that words can change meaning and usage over time, and how Martha sees every improperly used term as a learning opportunity for everyone. Thanks for resolving another family word-usage squabble!

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