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Leverage My World -- by C. Stuart Hardwick

It never ceases to amaze me how willing people are, in this Internet age, to step right in and demonstrate their ignorance when they might just as easily (and with the same exact tool) address it.

I was called to task a little while ago for using “Leverage” as a verb. Now, I have an MBA, so I honestly never really thought about it–we used it that way all the time in finance. A quick visit to Google found many many posts making the same claim: “Leverage is not a verb you fool! It’s a neologism of the worst sort and a sure sign of a poor education!”

Well, no.

First, language evolves, and English as we know it would not exist without neologisms and other mechanisms of change, but more to the point, leverage is, in fact, a perfectly acceptable transitive verb. From Merriam Webster:

Leverage (verb):
1: to provide (as a corporation) or supplement (as money) with leverage; also : to enhance as if by supplying with financial leverage
2: to use for gain : exploit

The latter, of course, is what most of us generally mean, but even if this were not so, I would argue in favor of the verb form. I agree with Bill Brohaugh of

“And I hear some of you saying . . . you blast conversate when converse is available, yet you defend leverage when lever is available?” I do indeed. Conversate fills no need. It is duplicative, a bizarre “synonym” of converse. On the other hand, leverage is not a precise synonym of lever, neither in noun nor in verb form. It fills a need.”

So there you have it, and on we shall go, leveraging the technology at our fingertips to more clearly converse with our fellow miscreant.

Reblogged from More posts on writing available under /category/writing/


Posted by C. Stuart Hardwick 29 Jun 2013 at 09:37
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Responses to this blog

Sheridan 30 Jun 2013 at 19:23  
What kind of silly fool told you not to use leverage as a verb? What century do they write in, er, live in? Me thinks it was someone who prefers literary over commercial fiction, and chooses to convince the world we should feel the same.
Lindymoon 1 Jul 2013 at 11:40  
Good reblog! If folks say something isn't a word without even looking it up, they deserve to be chastised quite sharply, possibly with a pointy stick — especially if they get all snotty about it. (Miss Prissy has her dander up today!) However, we here at CC and elsewhere are all still learning this writing and critiquing biz, so we will make foolish mistakes, and ruffle feathers from time to time. That's what is for.

That said, we would never have developed language beyond "ugh," if some had had their way. Caveman/woman purists, I suppose, would have complained: "What wrong with "ugh"? Ugh good."

@ Sheridan: I understand your point, but while some literary lovers might be "dead language" lovers, many embrace the innovative/artsy side of literary and think "genre" fiction can be limiting and/or unaccepting of change. JMHO.
Sheridan 2 Jul 2013 at 14:20  
@Lindymoon: Yes I agree. My comment on a suspecting a literary-inclined person was behind the chastising of using leverage as a verb was meant more in the sense of questioning the motive behind the slam...I suspect it was the need of an 'innovate/artsy side' person to rein in the fast-and-loose language of genre writing. It was not an attempt to slam literary novels written by writers of dead language lovers.

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