Video is a Verb

Published on Author Christopher Fahey7 Comments
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What do you do with a video camera? You video.

I’ve always wanted to coin a phrase or invent a word, to have a term of my own invention be spoken by thousands or even millions of people every day. An astonishingly large number of my friends and peers have done exactly this, some spectacularly so. From ambient intimacy to ajax, blogs to folksonomies, topless meetings to everyware, veterans of the Information Architecture scene have been a prolific lot.

I’ll admit that while I don’t spend a lot of time trying to invent catchy and useful new additions to the lexicon, I do harbor a hope of someday joining this group with a worthwhile word of my own.

For now, then, I wish to formally submit for peer review a humble nomination (so to speak) in the rough vicinity of true coinages. It’s not exactly a real neologism, as the word itself as a string of letters already exists. It’s more like a newly permissible usage:

  • video (verb) to record motion pictures to a medium other than film, such as video tape or digital media, whether recorded directly from life with a camera or transferring from one motion picture medium to another non-film medium.

The word’s current definition doesn’t include a verb form. I think we need one. Examples:

  • I will video my daughter in her school play tonight.
  • Make sure you set the DVR to video the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica next weekend.

We already have one-word verbs for most technological communications: mail, film, photograph, record, tape, phone, and fax. We email, IM, Google, and tweet. We even used to use the one-word verb videotape when video was recorded on whirring VHS, Hi-8, and DV cameras. Why must we bend over backwards linguistically to say “shoot video” (as if cameras were guns) or “record with my digital video recorder” just to avoid the anachronistic “videotape” — when “video” does the job so succinctly?

Interestingly, the Latin origin of the word is a verb: “video” means “(I) see”. And in the future “nadsat” vocabulary of A Clockwork Orange, the word “viddy” is used as a verb, meaning both “to see” and at another level “to understand” or even “to dream”. Perhaps we need to go that far and start using a whole new word for recorded visual experiences as we enter an era where the line between fantasy and reality, truth and fiction, media and life itself, is becoming blurred.

We can always viddy later. For now, however, we need to video.

Finally, I will confess that one of the main reasons for writing this post is to shamelessly and selfishly lay claim to this usage call for making this usage acceptable in the new official history of early 21st century humanity (i.e. Google’s index). Yoo hoo, Google? Guess what? “Video” is now a verb.

7 Responses to Video is a Verb

  1. I know you’re right, but for some reason I’m resistant.

    For the DVR, you can just use ‘record.’ For that matter, you can always use ‘record.’

    ‘Record’ could be used for audio-only howeverl, so it’s not as precise. Where I suppose ‘video’ as a verb would denote that one is recording moving images with sound.

    It’s in pretty widespread usage already (I’ve noticed that tech journalist john dvorak uses ‘video’ as a verb) so I’m not sure you should get full credit :-)

  2. Hmmm… I’m not sure about this one. I don’t “photo” with a camera, even through I may take a photo of something. In the same way I video something [or pass tense ‘videod’?] just sounds really weird to my ears.

    So I propose an alternative [with tongue planted firmly in cheek]: videograph

    Usage:

    “Next time it snows I’m going to videograph the flakes coming down”

    “Last weekend I videographed the melting ice”

  3. @t.whid Damn that Dvorak! I imagine many others are already doing this, actually. I’m just advocating making it official.

    @Chris Casciano Well, “photo” is just a slang shorthand for “photograph”, which is a noun and a verb. Past tense would be “videoed” I think, which my OSX spellchecker just informed me is not misspelled!

  4. Not to burst your bubble or anything, but I think I’ve always used ‘video’ as a verb ever since iI first met a video machine in the late 70s/early 80s.

    The verb ‘video’ was common usage at least in Scotland where I grew up.

  5. There was always a *big* stink made between the video production classes and the film students. Videographers did not *film* anything, as they weren’t using *film* at all, but rather tape (of course, for the pedantic, tape is a type of film, just not one that requires developing). They produced video. We’d use “video taped”, although the logical shorthand would be “videoed”

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