"unbanked" and the verb "bank" 'cause to have a bank account'

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Nov 27 17:33:41 UTC 2008

 From a letter to the NYT Magazine (from José Cisneros, Treasurer of
San Francisco), 11/23/08, p. 16:

Douglas McGray's article (Nov. 9) shined a light on a little discussed
but promising new effort: bringing the "unbanked" into the financial
mainstream. We know firsthand of its benefits. Two years ago, San
Francisco introduced the first comprehensive initiative to bank the
unbanked by encouraging financial institutions to modify their
products and policies to attract lower-income consumers.


we seem not to have mentioned "unbanked: on ADS-L, but it's been
around for a while:

   A 2003 report from the Woodstock Institute describes some of the
best practices in the banking industry to reach low-income, unbanked

   To help increase awareness of these problems, to promote practical
solutions, and to explain the benefits of bringing the unbanked into
mainstream financial services, the FDIC hosted a symposium at the
National Press Club in Washington, DC on November 5, 2003. The topic
of the symposium was "Tapping the Unbanked Market: Helping People
Enter the Financial Mainstream."

older cites from OED2, under the un- prefix:

1965 Economist 19 June p. vii, One way of jerking the clearing banks
into providing better facilities for the great unbanked public. 1980
Daily Tel. 9 Dec. 15 The banks are well aware that they can best pay
their own wages bills by drumming up more business from the great

this is an adjective 'not having a bank (account)', an instance of the
pattern un- + N + -ed 'not having a N' (as in "ungoggled" and
"unjacketed", and even "undentisted" -- all attested).  these
formations don't require that an adjective N + -ed 'having a N' come
first, and i suspect that "banked" 'having a bank (account)' is
considerably later than "unbanked", but this is hard to check by
ordinary searches, since there are so many verbs "bank" (some having
to do with "bank" the financial institution -- e.g. "bank" 'put in a
bank" -- many not).

in any case, the adjective "unbanked" seems to have led to the verbing
of the financial-institution noun "bank", in a new verb meaning 'cause
to have a bank (account), provide with a bank (account)'.


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

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