Verse as a verb & sneaked or snuck
Two points raised on Column 8 today
Who are we versing this week? A teacher commented that the verb ‘to verse’ as in ‘Who are we versing this week?’ is so entrenched that it ought to be in the Macquarie Dictionary.
Well, we are pleased to say that it has been since 2009. The usage note says that it occurs mostly in the speech of children, but the children are growing up. As Column 8 said, the children are now working in the sports department of the ABC. It is time to accept that versing is in adult language now.
The second question was ‘sneaked or snuck – which is correct?’
The form snuck originated in dialectal speech in the southern United States towards the end of the 19th century. Interestingly this was homegrown dialect – there is no mention of snuck in this sense in the British Dialect Dictionary. The form was picked up by mainstream American English, often with a humorous connotation.
It is unusual for a verb which has perfectly regular forms to develop an irregular strong form in this way. It may be that snuck sounds so much more sneaky than sneaked. As is often the way, a common joke for one generation loses its humour for the next. Sneaked and snuck are at the moment existing side by side as options for the past tense and past participle of sneak. There is still some resistance from British English but, given the appeal of snuck, it will probably break down those barriers over time.
Do you say versed or versus? Sneaked or snuck? Let us know in the comments below.
Want some help with other common confusables? Check out our other comparison blogs
- aitch versus haitch
- can not versus cannot
- compliment versus complement
- dependent versus dependant
- dispatch versus despatch
- effect versus affect
- far-fetched versus far-flung
- hijack versus highjack
- hunker down versus bunker down
- jail versus gaol
- just deserts versus just desserts
- licence versus license
- myriad versus myriad of
- practice versus practise
- program versus programme
- skol versus scull
- sneaked versus snuck
- while versus whilst
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: Derek Jensen (Tysto))