versus » verses
Spotted in the wild:
- Alex Trebek hosts this famous game show, consisting of Ash, who is versing Gary, who is versing Pikachu. Who will prove themselves as the best? (fanfiction.net)
- In this episode, the BBA Revolution is versing the Barthez Battalion. (Generation Beyblade Anime Extreme group on MSN)
- Knights are versing everyone in the top 8……mainly…… (link)
- but if you do get it i will verse you and spank your ass like a little skanky biach. i will verse you on zansibar no time limit 5o kills to win and you might just get 2 if your lucky. (link)
- i’ll verse you at chess, i played for awhile and am fairly good, just name a site. (link)
Analyzed or reported by:
- William J. Rapaport (Linguist List 15-334, 21 December 2004)
- Amy West (e-mail of 22 December 2004)
- Ted Mellow (Nathan Bierma's "On Language" column in the Chicago Tribune, 13 July 2005)
- Language Hat (Budge/Verse)
So far it seems to be mostly a kid thing. But they’ll be adults soon…
Has anyone noticed the use of “versus” as a verb, as in:
“I versed him in Yu-Gi-Oh yesterday.”
“Who are you versing in the tournament?”
It seems to come from a misunderstanding, based on pronunciation, of “versus” as “verses” (i.e., of a Latin term misheard as an English
3rd-person verb): The headline “Michael vs. Tyler” is heard as the active sentence “Michael verses Tyler”.
I first heard this within the last year from my 9-year-old son and his friends. They define it as “to battle”.
My 8-year-old son says this quite often, and not just in the context of the dreaded trading card games (Yu-Gi-oh, Pokemon, etc.) When he’s reading the sports pages he’ll say things like “The Patriots versed Green Bay.” Or “I’ll verse you in chess.” I’ve always assumed it to be as you say a faulty analysis of versus as a verb. If you really want, I’ll listen more closely next time. I think I’ve also heard him use it with a preposition.
Mellow as quoted by Bierma:
My son, and in fact every other child in my area who is involved in sports, uses a verb to indicate which team he is competing against: “to verse,” as in, “Who are we versing tonight?” Or, “We versed the Dodgers yesterday.” It obviously derives from the Latin preposition “versus.”
I had thought the use of this word in this way was peculiar to my town or at least only to the north/northwest suburbs [of Chicago]. What I found very interesting is that when I did a Web search on it I found the exact same word occurring as far away as Australia. Language is an amazing organic thing.