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Chris -- 2018-04-11
My nine-year old startled me today by repeatedly using “truce” as a verb. He was talking about a dodgeball game in which the kids make side deals with individual opponents not to aim at them. “He truced me,” “I truced him”—you get the idea. The opposite of “truce” is “backstab,” apparently. You can call off a truce by yelling “Backstab!” or you can just renege on the deal by hitting the other kid. This can be described by saying “I backstabbed him.”
This may not be new. I never heard this when I was a kid, but I’m a very elderly parent. Any comments?
It reminds me a bit of the new verb “to verse,” as in “We verse the Blackhawks in basketball on Saturday.” A back-formation from “versus,” of course. I’ve heard this and seen a discussion of it in a newspaper, so apparently it’s near-universal kid-speak.
This is a new one for me, as well, but the OED knows about it and provides examples in both transitive and intransitive flavors. Either your son’s been reading 100-year old copies of the Columbus Dispatch, or modern kids have spontaneously reinvented an obsolescent verb. Here’s the OED entry—smooshed to fit in one quotation block:
1. intr. To make a truce.
1569 T. STOCKER tr. Diod. Sic. III. v. 109 Who after that victorie, trused with the Aretians. 1731 FIELDING Mod. Husb. II. xi, If you please, my lord, to truce with your proposals. 1893 E. L. WAKEMAN in Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch 25 May, The factions had attacked each other, retreated, parleyed, blarneyed, scorned, truced.
2. trans. To bring to an end by or as by means of a truce; to put an end to.
1618 MIDDLETON Peacemaker Wks. (Bullen) VIII. 326 Spain..betwixt whom and England the ocean ran with blood.., nor ever truced her crimson effusion. 1706 T. BAKER Tunbr. Walks II. i, We may truce the debate.