"12 step" as a verb

Andrea Morrow aandrea1234 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 3 14:22:19 UTC 2008

As a person active in two 12-step programs,  I can provide some information.

Instead of "twelve-stepping," I've more often heard "twelfth-stepping"
or "to twelfth step" someone.  Both of these yield hits of google.
What these verbs mean is to talk to someone about the program, usually
someone who could benefit from attending but doesn't realize it yet.
The 12th step, from AA is:

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we
tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these
principles in all our affairs."

So, if I were to say, "Suzie and I twelfth-stepped Caren last night,"
it would mean we went to see Caren to share our "experience, strength,
and hope" (another piece of program jargon), with the intent of
getting her to come to a meeting with us.  Usually there is a sense of
surprise in twelfth-stepping - the target usually doesn't expect to
hear your pitch.  So, from Caren's point of view in the example above,
we might hear, "Andrea and Suzie invited me to a movie last night, and
then they twelfth-stepped me!  I was p*ssed."

Your question was about "twelve-stepping someone", which is probably a
variant of the above.  However, I've only heard "twelve-stepping" used
as a verb without the object, as in, "I've been twelve-stepping for
three years now."  The meaning is to work the steps, to be in
recovery, etc.

All of this is not to be confused with the popular,
"thirteenth-stepping."  That is when someone (maybe in the course of
twelfth-stepping) tries to get another person to become romantically
involved.  Or, it could happen at a meeting.  For instance, "Jack
spends more time thirteenth-stepping than working his program!"  It is
usually used in a joking manner or as a putdown or both.


On Tue, Jun 3, 2008 at 9:03 AM, David Donnell <daviddonnell at nyc.rr.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Donnell <daviddonnell at NYC.RR.COM>
> Subject:      "12 step" as a verb
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Heard some AA types talking about '12 stepping' another person...
> I'm curious to know what that verb means, but I can't for the like of
> me think of how/where to search or look it up...
> Suggestions?
> DD
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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