English Language
Writing and Composition

Can addict be used as a verb in English Language?


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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.

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December 25, 2014 12:14PM

No. There was a brief usage of addict as a verb, but it was only as a back-formation from addicted.