"weird" as a verb

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 3 18:07:46 UTC 2002

At 10:52 AM -0400 9/3/02, Drew Danielson wrote:
>another issue altogether -
>this sounds like refined application of 'out+[a 'quantifiable'
>action]'.  'Weird' is only operative as far as it gives specificity to
>the action that 'out' modifies.
>Cf. "He can out-eat me" and "He can eat me".  The prefix 'out-' (or
>'out') confers the sense of 'doing more' of root verb in reference to
>the object.  Nothing (and no one) is being eaten in the first sentence.
>Just as nothing is being 'weirded' in the example below.
>"Baker, John" wrote:
>>          I don't have the exact wording in front of me and the
>>quotes of this on the web apparently are all done from memory, but
>>Douglas Adams used "out-weird" as a verb in "The Restaurant at the
>>End of the Universe" (1980):  "Listen, three-eyes, don't try to
>>out-weird me.  I get stranger things than you free in my breakfast
>  > John Baker

And relevantly, transitive "out-A" verbs can also be formed from an
adjective A without any other (zero-derived) verb being available
from that adjective:

I tried to look (seem, etc.) happy/sleepy/sick/tall, but you
out-happied/sleepied/sicked/talled me

I've heard or can imagine these as on-line formations.  And there's
clearly no relation to "weird out", which is a lexicalized verb.
Another on-line formation is "to be (all) N-ed out".  Ex:  "I'm all
stringed out"  (i.e. I don't want to play Jacob's ladder with you
anymore) vs. "I'm all strung out".


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