Monday, October 1, 2012

Addicting vs. Addictive

 
Gillian writes:
Hi Snarky. Is addicting a word? I hear people say it all the time, but my teacher says the correct word is addictive.
 
Addictive is an adjective that means causing addiction or being vulnerable to addiction. That coffee is so addictive. He has an addictive personality.

In recent years, some people have started using addicting interchangeably with addictive. But is addicting really a word? I checked three dictionaries and found addicting listed in just one of them: Merriam-Webster. Curiously, M-W assigns an identical definition to both addictive and addictingcausing or relating to a physiological need for certain drugs.

That's not to say dictionaries always get it right. For example, I think it was a mistake when M-W admitted the slang word 'chillax,' which is still far too new and trendy to be in a dictionary. In my opinion, words shouldn't enter dictionaries until they've proven their staying power.

But here's the deal: English is a stretchable, ever-expanding language that creates new words all the time. It's hard to pinpoint the precise moment when a word moves from fad to full-fledged acceptance. It's clear that addicting has become prevalent in conversation, but the media seems torn. The New York Times and The Atlantic seem to have a clear preference for addictive, but addicting has started to surface in other media outlets.

The verdict: I would concede that addicting is a legitimate word, simply because of its widespread use. But I would also argue that the better choice is addictive. Why use addicting when addictive already exists and means exactly the same thing?

31 comments:

  1. If it's on Fox News, Snarky, it isn't a real word. I would stick with addictive.

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    1. Yes! No further discussion needed. I wouldn't trust them for proper grammar usage any more than factual news reports.

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    2. Right....because the truth hurts

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  2. I agree. It seems that people use addicting because they are ignorant of the proper use of the word addictive.

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  3. Dumb first reply...I guess nothing in that headline is a word?

    Addicting is a verb, by linguistic analysis, whereas addictive is an adjective. I hate the sound of "addicting," but concede that its widespread use makes it a legitimate word. But using the linguistic rules of our language, it should only be used when a verb is necessary, and not as an adjective (or as an adverb).

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    1. Actually addicting in this instance isn't a verb. Linguists would argue that it is a participle adjective in the context above. Personally I don't recognise addicting as a word in British English as it just stands out as something which feels inherently incorrect to me when addictive has always been used. In recent years though on the Internet I have noticed its usage, usually in poorly structured sentences by I assume to be second language English speakers. I've never seen an example where addicting should used instead of addictive in an adjectival form, your dialect or form of English may vary however.

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    2. @cristopher griffiths- im not an english major, linguist, or any person who is remotely qualified to correct you on grammar, but i think you are fully qualified to make the argument that "addicting" is a word or not. i mean look at how you spell. you write "recognise", while many americans will type "recognize"... even from my computer, it highlights "recognise" as incorrect. i mean the internet isnt the best example, but look how language has shifted within the last 10 years even. words like texted, selfie, muggle... i can still go on. languages change all the time too. theres a reason we do not speak or use the same grammar structure as "ye olde english".

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    3. but yes, it is meant to be used as an adjective. sorry for not including that.

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    4. @SAM some words made up from various uses such as texted, are valid for use in my personal opinion because it describes a valid action per se and we need language to include these new forms of communications or actions, texted obviously sums up an action to text someone from your mobile device and is a lot less of a mouth full than saying , I just sent you a text from my mobile device, we can assume the missing words from experience and infer them.

      Addicting on the other hand, is one of the words that is just pure lazy English to me, and while some of these lazy words are OK, there is no real reason to swap a perfectly good word such as addictive for addicting, it gives no further meaning, it is not shorter, it has no valid use over addictive, it is simply lazy English and for some is used out of ignorance I suppose.

      With regards to spelling, I presume Christopher was posting from the UK or UK at the least has a UK local setting on his PC/MAC, I recognise that as I spell it the same way, from the UK.

      I also agree with some of the other comments about being dumbed down, I find language is becoming more and more broken, generally by those folks that never learned to talk properly nor spell properly, and these words gain mass appeal because it seems to me that there are plenty of folks who cannot read, write nor talk properly all topped off with plenty of lazy attitudes to many things not just language.

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  4. Just because society is being dumbed down, day by day, doesn't make it okay to accept made up words. Fight the stupidity or become as stupid as everyone else.

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  5. Ugh! Addicting used in place of addictive really annoys the shit out of me.

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  6. 'A drug dealer is addicting his customers to heroin. Heroin is very addictive.'

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    1. ' A drug dealer is getting his customers addicted to heroin.' sounds better to me. I'm no English language expert but addicting just seems like a word that someone uses who's first language is not English.

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    2. Its lazy talk.

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  7. I do not feel it is proper use of language, I feel that addictive is the correct word to be used.

    Another thing that generally upsets me too, is the number of people and times you see the confusion and misuse of the words then and than.

    I see it most days these days and for the life of me cannot figure out how adults having grown up speaking English have failed to make the distinction between these two words. I have even seen it on websites that supposedly professional journalists writing for a living. How did they get through school and university not knowing the difference between then and than?

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  8. Addicting as a transitive verb is OK by me but I cannot explain in adequate terms how its use as an adjective raises my hackles. A little part of my goodwill to mankind dies with every instance.

    The correct term 95% of the time is "addictive". "Addictive" is a direct property of an object and doesn't require someone or something to pass that property from one party to another.

    Every time I see "This game is sooo addicting" (shudder) I have to wonder who it is corrupting and with what. The answer is so far elusive. Perhaps the Play store is the new dark side? I wonder if they have cookies.

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  9. addctive is the right word to use in almost all cases. while gramatically, addicting is correct and would be understood by anyone. The main reason is that words that are like this generally a state of mind, regarding what is being described. so if a game is addictive it means that you can become addicted. if a game is addicting does it mean it will leave you somewhere in between addiction and not? is there such a thing? what is the action of becoming addicted?

    when you consider the phrase, my partner is supportive of me. My partner is supporting of me. supporting suggests that your partner is in the process of supporting you.

    lastly to answer Sam the reason why we don't speak ye old English is because the only people who spoke "ye old English" were wealthy literates. it was the illiterate masses which formed the English some are defending now. Language will always change but not necessarily for the better :) "ye olde English" is far more descriptive than modern English. although because i don't use it takes time to analyse it for interpretation.

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    1. addicting is as bad as using "anyways" instead of "anyway"!

      LOL

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  14. It may be in a dictionary or two .. but its a bloody annoying 'modern' word / phrase that gets my back up no end ...
    But thats personal so hey ho.

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  15. WOW... you are from Yale? that is so "impressing"!

    LOL...

    for those who don't know english well, the correct way is to say "that is so impressive!"

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