Can addict be used as a verb in English Language?
December 26, 2014 10:01AM
The word addict, stressing the first syllable, is a common noun:
\'a-(ˌ)dikt\ But dictionaries include addict as a transitive verb,
too; the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary, for one, and in the
first definition. Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus also includes
addict as a verb, meaning to habituate. Addict used as a verb has
its stress on the second syllable: \ə-'dikt\
Addict likely began as a verb as it is rooted in the Latin infinitive, addicere, meaning, among other things, to yield, and figuratively, to sell out or betray. Technically the noun, addict, is back-formed from the past participle, addicted, by dropping the -ed ending. Linguists define participles as adjectives derived from verbs. So grammatically speaking, too, addict is a verb, as well as a common noun.
Present tense/past tense/past participle - addict/addicted/addicted
Present tense in a sentence: I drink coffee and eat chocolate although they addict me to caffeine.
Auxiliary (helping) verbs can combine with the present participle, addicting, to make a compound verb. The object of the verb phrase is either understood, or stated.
Drinking coffee is addicting [me to the caffeine].
The adjective, addicting, is the present participle of the verb, addict. Coffee is an addicting drink. The synonym, addictive, also an adjective, is formed by adding the verb suffix -ive. Coffee is an addictive drink; both sentences are correct. Strictly speaking, though, addictive would be used only as an adjective, not in a verb phrase.
But language morphs; it is a living thing, and idioms add color.
And when all this gets too confusing, I remind myself that linguistic rules are derived from language usage, not the other way around. Good grammar can be grounding to jump away from a rule, helping us know how to keep the meaning clear.