Friday, July 13, 2012

Sunscreening the kids

Until this week, I would have read "to sunscreen" as meaning "to shield someone/something from the sun's rays." But in Wednesday's "Pajama Diaries," the verb is used in a different sense. "Strapping the kids down to sunscreen them" means not to put them under an umbrella, but to apply sunscreen cream to their skin.



Logical enough: We can already soap, oil, perfume, shampoo, and towel our bodies, so why would anyone object to sunscreening them? It's just one more bit of shorthand from the time-crunched parenting subculture. To diaper is old hat, of course, and to parent, says the OED, has been around for 350 years. (It's the intransitive use, only 50 or so, that still raises a few hackles.)

My favorite parenting verbs, though, are the new transitive forms: "We can stroller the kids to the Joneses' and nap them there." Or "We generally pee her at 11" -- that is, carry a sleepy, not-yet-trained toddler to the toilet.  (Toilet itself, meaning to assist someone, old or young, at the toilet,  has been a verb since the '50s. But it sounds somewhat clinical, and besides, who needs the extra syllable?)

 I haven't yet heard of babies being Bjorned, bottled, cribbed, or toothbrushed, but I'll bet those verbs are just a mommy blog away.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

My wife is fond of boobing our daughter. We don't have a baby Bjorn but we do Beco and woombie her all the time.

Danny said...

We ask our older son (the one with a significant number of teeth) if he's all toothbrushed, although we never tell him to go and toothbrush. So halfway?

Marc Leavitt said...

All of these verbed nouns are so "now." As with every other example of same, only time will tell(by the way, I don't object).

Gregory Lee said...

The verb sunscreen inherits its primary+secondary stress pattern from the noun sunscreen, and that is the stress typical of noun compounds, made up of two words (or should I say "two nouns"?). Can anyone think of a verb with this stress, from two words, which is not derived from a compound noun?

FigMince said...

Download.

Ø said...

blow-dry

Ø said...

Well, okay, blow-dry is sort of derived from something like a compound noun: blow-dryer, which is derived from the noun dryer and the verb blow. I think.

Gregory Lee said...

dry seems more like a separable particle than part of a compound verb blowdry. It needn't be written as one word. Compare wipe clean.

Gregory Lee said...

FigMince's example download is a noun, as well as a verb, but I don't know that the verb is derived from the noun.

empty said...

I don't believe that the verb blow-dry is analogous to wipe clean. I think that for most people the past tense (also participle) is blow-dried rather than blew dry (or blown dry). I believe that the noun blow-dryer came first and the verb is an offshoot of that.

It's more like steam-clean than wipe clean.

Gregory Lee said...

Yes, I agree that the past tense blowdried shows that blow dry is a verb.

FigMince said...
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