PDF as a Verb

Fri Feb 3 19:28:17 UTC 2006

        PDF, or Portable Document Format, is the document format used by
Adobe Acrobat and various other types of software.  I've noticed
recently that it has become increasingly popular as a verb, meaning to
scan a document and transmit the resulting PDF file.

        I wrote the foregoing before I checked Westlaw for early uses in
the press.  I did not expect to confirm so specifically the prediction
from this 6/15/1993 Associated Press story:

        <<A California software maker has come up with a way to let
computers that have never before been on speaking terms to
electronically share documents, pictures, graphics and a wealth of other

        A program released Tuesday by Adobe Systems Inc. called Acrobat
lets documents cross all computer boundaries, including brand of
machine, operating system, display screen, originating program, colors
and even typefaces.

        . . . .

        ''Everything can now be sent around the company
electronically.'' John Warnock, Adobe's chief executive officer, said in
an interview.

        Warnock hopes Acrobat has such a major impact on offices that it
adds a new verb, ''PDFing,'' to the business vocabulary, just the way
''FedEx'' has come to mean overnight shipping.

        PDF is short for Portable Document Format, the function that
makes the compatibility possible.>>

        The term did not catch on immediately.  The next example I see
is from Google Groups, 3/31/1996:  "I have made pdf's from every
application on my machine and even gone back into my past work and pdf'd
some old dwg/dxf files."

John Baker

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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