watch = "(of a motion picture) to seem through viewing"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Aug 24 18:43:59 UTC 2009

On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 1:05 PM, Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
> Larry Horn wrote:
> Would we really expect dictionaries to list all "middle" uses of
> transitive verbs? <<
> Certainly in this case, because the meaning is both useful and specific -
> and, I suspect, fairly common among film reviewers.
> The corresponding sense of "read" once seemed eccentric - maybe even too
> eccentric to be in a dictionary, but now it's absolutely routine.  How did
> Chaucer do without it?

Googling turns up various similative uses that make the "read"/"watch"
analogy explicit, often of the form "X watches like Y reads":

"This movie watches like I imagine 'The Book' reads."
"This movie watches like a really good book reads."
"Comic book fans love this show because it watches like a comic book reads."
"It watches like a bad romance novel reads, and yet I can't help myself."

Less common is "X reads like Y watches":

"This books reads like the movie 'Far and Away' watches."

And another "middle verb" that sometimes gets worked in is "play" (for
video games):

"This movie watches like the video game plays."
"Max Payne 2 plays like a superb action game, reads like an engulfing
novel, and watches like a 4-star movie."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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