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A colleague was subjected to a little chaffing the other day for saying that something was being “efforted.” Where is that from?” they teased.

I had heard it occasionally over the years, sometimes used mockingly, and had assumed that it was self-important workplace jargon.

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But you don’t suppose; you check.

Merriam-Webster’s online unabridged dictionary lists only noun senses for effort, as do the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, and Dictionary.com.

I checked the online Oxford English Dictionary, which does list an obsolete verb sense for effort, “to strengthen, fortify,” dating from 1662. (That entry, from 1892, when it would likely have passed through the hands of James Murray, has not been updated since, according to a note.)

The Urban Dictionary, however, has noticed it, with scorn: “A made-up word used by TV news producers or assignment editors who should be mouth-punched; often used by people who think it's a more eloquent way of admitting fail.”

I would only point out to the Urban Dictionary that [cough] all words are made-up words, but I think that they are on the mark about the kinds of people who use the word.

Interestingly, I have never heard the root verb used, only the present or past participles— “efforting to complete that assignment by deadline,” “attempts to acquire the photograph have been efforted.”

The Grammarphobia blog wrote about efforting in 2007, sniffing that “I got nearly 20,000 hits when I Googled ‘efforting,’ but many were complaints about the usage. As Barbara Wallraff puts it in her Word Court column in The Atlantic, ‘There’s no point in inventing “efforting” when so many familiar verbs are available to do its job.’ ”

Scorning new words or new senses of old words is a chancy business, though, because you can never tell what will stick in the language and leave you looking foolish a decade or generation later for having objected.

As for me, having efforted this post, it won’t trouble me in the least if the word gets up your nose.

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