"to executive produce"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Nov 9 17:35:34 UTC 2008

recently i've been posting (here and on Language Log) about two-part
back-formed verbs
("to gay marry", "to early/absentee/advance vote", "to offshore
drill", "to underage drink").  these particular examples are
relatively recent innovations, and therefore noticeable (and objected
to by many), but such back-formations have been entering the language
at least since the early 19th century and many have become entirely
naturalized, their back-formative origin no longer appreciated by most
speakers: houseclean, cross-refer, hard-boil [an egg], babysit, air-
condition, fine-tune, free associate, etc.

now chris waigl has pointed out "to executive produce", which gets a
huge number of web hits (in its various forms).  you can see why it's
so popular: "X will executive produce Y" says more than "X will
produce Y", and it has an agentive subject, unlike the paraphrase "X
will be the executive producer of Y" (which is also longer than "X
will executive produce Y").

i have the feeling that this one has been around for a while, but it's
hard to check out.  we don't seem  to have discussed it on ADS-L, and
even things like "executive producer" ("executive secretary",
"executive chairman", etc.) are not so easy to track: NOAD2 and AHD4
have the relevant sense for the adjective "executive": 'having the
power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect' (NOAD2), with cites
for "executive secretary" and "executive chairman", but the OED has
only the more general sense 'having the function of executing or
carrying into practical effect', with no cites close to "executive
producer" etc. (and of course nothing for "executive produce").

has anyone seen discussion of this one?


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