Questions Answered

Thanks, Cheryl, for submitting the Word Blog’s first question:

“I recently have heard news stories and such that refer to coronate as in ‘the conference is being held to coronate the new leader.’ Is this now a verb and a noun?”

Although it isn’t a verb that’s in wide currency—after all how many monarchs are crowned in day-to-day life?—coronate isn’t a neologism or a recent verbification of a noun.

In fact, both Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary trace this verb back at least as far as 1623 when it appeared in Henry Cockeram’s The English dictionarie, or an interpreter of hard English words.

So, apart from the fact that the leaders referred to in these reports aren’t actually being crowned per se, the use of the word coronate in these cases is correct.

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