Let’s sing an anthem to anthimeria, the linguistic magic trick by which verbs become nouns, interjections turn into adjectives, and advertisers grab eyeballs.
Here are three current examples from the world of frozen dairy treats. The first two are from Crystal, which calls itself “California’s dairy since 1901.” Originally based in Sacramento, the company was independent until 2001 and is now a subsidiary of Foster Farms Dairy in Modesto.
Billboard in Oakland, California.
Billboard in Oakland, California.
“Full of wow” and “full of yum” carry echoes of “full of win” (“It’s good!”). Linguist Neal Whitman wrote in July 2009 about the conversion of “win” (and “fail”) into mass nouns:
We’re not seeing uses like This team is hungry for win, or Fail is a dish best eaten cold. More typical are the frames full of or made of, or references to boxes, buckets, or bags of whatever the new mass noun is referring to.
Be sure to read the comments on Neal’s post, too. For further study, see Ben Zimmer’s Word Routes August 2009 column, “Fail for the Win!”
Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry’s is truncating “greatness” in an ad slogan.
Ad on San Francisco-bound BART train.
“Committed to great” may grate, but let’s be honest: “Committed to greatness since ’78” wouldn’t rhyme, and “Committed to acting ethically and producing excellent ice cream” would be wordy ... and boring.
This is a bit tangential, but "Crystal" strikes me as an odd name for a dairy. It's the sort of word I'd more naturally associate with more transparent fluids than milk....
Posted by: Q. Pheevr | July 12, 2011 at 09:06 AM
@Q. Pheevr: Many "Crystal" brands base their names on the concept of "a clear choice." I can't vouch for this company's reasons for picking Crystal--it may have been the name of a daughter, or the name of the grocery store where the first churning operation was located--but "Crystal" doesn't strike me as too much of a stretch here.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | July 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Isn't it as in "Crystal Light"? The drink. From powder. Still could be a daughter's name, but the logo looks like the one from the beverage drink. Perhaps the parent company have bought a dairy farm....
Completely agree about the Ben & Jerry's rhyming issue - an advertising compromise in which proper grammar falls by the wayside (as it does so frequently).
Current verb to noun pet peeve: overwhelm. What's with all the "I am in overwhelm"? Or "Don't get stuck in overwhelm!"? Grrrr!
Posted by: Marcia M | July 12, 2011 at 12:07 PM
@Marcia: There's no connection between Crystal Dairy, founded in Sacramento in 1901, and Crystal Light, a Kraft Foods (Chicago) brand introduced in 1982. If you look at the logos side by side, you'll see almost no similarity: the Crystal Light wordmark is in cursive caps/lower case, and the Crystal Dairy wordmark is in all-caps serif.
Also unrelated: Crystal Geyser spring water.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | July 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM
The example that always comes to mind for me is the use of "awesome" as a noun -- e.g., "Your daily dose of awesome" [http://zomg.tumblr.com/]. Have you covered that one before?
Posted by: mike | July 12, 2011 at 07:02 PM
This is the kind of thing that I hadn't noticed before but now I'll probably see it everywhere! The bit of this phenomenon that has seeped into my speech is "the stupid". I often use it after driving in particularly hectic rush hour traffic: "The stupid was thick today." It also makes appearances in very crowded stores on the weekend: "I can't take the stupid anymore, let's get out of here!"
Posted by: limr | July 16, 2011 at 12:26 PM