Thursday, August 02, 2012

I medal, you medal, he/she/it medals

When did 'medal' become a verb? asks Living on words alone this evening.

The place to find an answer to such questions is generally Michael Quinion's World Wide Words.

Use the search facility on the site and, sure enough, you will find this exchange from a 2008 newsletter of his:
"I was bemused to hear this morning's NPR commentator speak about the US meddling in the Chinese Olympics," wrote Barbara Millikan, "but after hearing it several times I realized from context that I was just witnessing the transmogrification of yet another noun: 'medal'. Did you know that we no longer win a medal; instead we just 'medal'? And good luck to anyone who tries to use their ears to distinguish between 'meddle' and 'medal'." 
That's a good point but, though many of us still find it extremely strange, the verb "medal" in this context is first recorded in 1966 and became more widespread during the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.
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Frank Little said...

As a transitive verb, "medal" is even older: 1822 according to the Oxford Dictionary.

pedantgwyn said...

Ah, but they've now moved on to using podium as a verb!

"She has a real opportunity to podium in this event"