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Working well
Look at those children pigging themselves on that chocolate.

Working well

‘Working well’ looks at words that are nouns and/or verbs.

'Well' is another English word that can carry several meanings in its role as different parts of speech: as an adverb ('They've done that well'), a noun ('The water comes from a well') and as a 'filler' ('Well, what's the problem?').

This Quiz deals chiefly with words that can function as verbs or nouns ~ and there are a quite surprising number of common ones.

We hope your abilities with such a feature of our language are, indeed, working well as you embark on this!

1.
In ONE of the following sentences, a noun that is the name of a tool is WRONGLY used as though it were also a verb: which one?
I daresay we can hammer out a statement for the media before we come out of the meeting.
Once you have finished assembling the unit, it should be ready to be screwed carefully onto your wall.
Those vegetables you are spooning round were only spaded out of our garden this morning.
After a long and dangerous chase, the police nailed him for speeding in a built-up area and ignoring three sets of traffic lights at red.
'Spade' isn't a verb: the word needed here is the appropriate form of 'to dig'.
One can 'hammer' information into (or perhaps, even, out of) someone, or 'hammer away' at a keyboard (punching at it more aggressively than necessary); 'nailing' is perhaps a related usage, meaning to secure or capture something so that it can't escape. ('They nailed him with a question about what he had done with the money the previous evening').
The use of tool images also includes 'screwing' money out of people (by putting pressure on them, 'twisting them' physically or situationally, or otherwise making them uncomfortable) and also 'drilling' facts into people.
2.
Which of the words offered below is the only one that would make sense in EACH of the blanks in this passage?
'When the Council acquired the site to build the Hillside Park Library, their first plan was to have a gently ... ... building that flowed with the landscape, rather than one great big slabby traditional municipal block; it could still be designed to accommodate sufficient ... ... to house the present and future book stock. But there were so many arguments; costs rose, no plans were agreed or approved; and, very sadly, they ended up ... ... the entire project indefinitely.'
slanting
sloping
starting
shelving
'To shelve' can mean: to slope gently (like a 'continental shelf, off a coastline), and also 'to put onto a shelf' (i.e., to store something away and forget about doing anything with it). 'Shelving' is a quantity of shelves (cf. 'packing / packaging', 'stuffing' etc.).
3.
In which ONE of these sentences is the noun/verb 'drag' used in its original, literal sense?
I suppose I shall have to drag myself round to the shops again, then, before closing time.
Most British theatres put on a pantomime around the turn of the year, and the Pantomime Dame role is traditionally played by a male actor in drag.
The police found signs of a body having been dragged through the undergrowth.
She hates going out in the evenings after a long day's work: she says she finds sitting in a pub for hours on end an absolute drag.
'Dragging oneself' (a slangy reflexive-style verb) is clearly metaphorical; how would you, or any other ~ presumably able-bodied ~ human being 'drag yourself' anywhere, 'by the scruff of [your own] neck' or otherwise?
Meanwhile 'drag' (as adjectival noun) or the phrase 'in drag' refers ~ for reasons we probably needn't explore ~ to actors (or others) cross-dressing, usually males clothed as females.
Some people refer to a boring experience (Answer 4) as 'a drag'; this phrase used also to be used, as one among many, to mean 'a cigarette' (possibly because one 'draws', i.e. breathes in, while smoking it; or perhaps because the time taken to break off another activity and smoke a cigarette is itself a long and potentially tedious distraction from the main task at hand).
4.
In which of these sentences does an item of clothing double as the most aggressive verb?
Trust the committee to dress up the changes as a programme of improvement.
He was so inefficient and rude to the customers that they had little option but to boot him out at the end of his probationary fortnight.
Who could resist a piece of exotic crystallised ginger, coated with best-quality chocolate?
He capped his splendid season by scoring more points in the final match.
'Dressing (up)', 'coating' and 'capping' are all reasonably benign activities ~ except, perhaps, in Answer 1 with the idea of hiding something or disguising it; but 'to boot' ( = to kick ) is clearly more drastic.
5.
Which of these culinary metaphors does NOT involve the addition of any solid ingredient?
Apparently they have salted away their savings in an account in the Channel Islands.
Most people think he only reached his position in the firm by buttering up the chairman's wife.
The children's edition only has a very watered-down version of the storyline.
The play itself was quite fun, but the script was peppered with coarse language which she didn't appreciate.
Water (Answer 3) is clearly [!] the only fluid, although 'buttering-up' (Answer 2) carries a strong suggestion that the butter would be melting. At any rate the phrase is heavily metaphorical ... unless there was,indeed, a very heavy and rather peculiar affair going on!
6.
Which of these occupational nouns-as-verbs carries the LEAST suggestion of things being cut down, or back?
She authored a range of books on these topics towards the turn of the last century.
Each book in the series was tailored to catch the enthusiasm of the day.
Some critics realised that the editors had probably doctored her original writings quite considerably before they ever went to press.
But now that she is dead and her papers have been released, academics have established how little of the material was in fact her own work; the editors and publishers seem to have believed they could butcher her manuscripts to their hearts' content.
'Authoring' (as a verb) is an ugly and unnecessary usage: what's wrong with 'writing'? But at least that was a constructive stage in the process, unlike 'tailoring' (trimming, with the metaphorical scissors), 'doctoring' (raising the suggestion of painful and intrusive surgery!) and ~ most unsubtle and sinister of all ~ 'butchering'.
7.
In which of the following sentences is the name of an animal used as a verb, which is not usually regarded as a farm animal?
Look at those children pigging themselves on that chocolate.
The motorcycle rammed into the skip at considerable speed and sent its rider flying.
Everyone's been beavering away to get the place ready for the opening ceremony next week.
This nasty infection seems to have been dogging him for several weeks now.
A beaver, though proverbial (as here) for its hard work, is not a farm animal in the sense that pigs, rams ('adult male sheep') and dogs are. Each of these verbs derives metaphorically from the ~ supposedly, observed ~ characteristics or behaviour of the animal, e.g. the greedy pig, the 'battering ram' (look that up!) and the dog that follows even when unwanted.
'Fly' (Answer 2) is of course also a verb and a creature, and we doubt there can be many farms anywhere without their share of flies; but fairly clearly, it wasn't the main verb here.
8.
ONE of these sentences includes a word which can also mean 'to cause an injury by means of one's hand': which one?
Let's stop at a pub and find ourselves a pint and a bite to eat.
That was a magnificent party, and the delicious punch they were serving probably helped set the atmosphere.
They have been doing their best to stamp out dishonesty in the organisation.
They're going to hold an initial meeting next week and kick a few ideas around informally.
'Punch' (Answer 2) can also be a mixed party drink, rather than the action of walloping someone with a closed fist. The other aggressive actions are with the teeth ('bite': Answer 1) and feet ('stamp' and 'kick' in the lower two Answers).
9.
In which of these sentences does the main verb come from a part of the body that is not 'on the outside'?
The trouble with buying secondhand books is that you don't know who else has fingered them, nor how good their personal hygiene was.
Part of the technique of a good woodwind instrument player is to tongue the start of each new note cleanly.
If you wouldn't mind just handing me that ruler, please?
Last time I saw them, they were heading in the direction of the supermarket.
Fingers, hand and head are all visible externally; but not so the tongue (Answer 2).
One can also 'thumb' things, e.g. 'a well-thumbed dictionary' (not to mention 'thumbing a lift', i.e. hitch-hiking).
10.
In which ONE of these sentences / passages is the word doubling as a verb and a noun, also (and most usually / obviously) the name of a living creature?
Whenever I go out to shop, my first port of call is the corner shop.
Why not just make up your own mind? I don't greatly mind which colour you choose.
Hold on a moment while I fish out the details of our hotel; I'm sure it said there was a lake or river nearby, where we could fish if we bought a permit.
If you want to watch the seabirds from close-to, obviously they would fly away if they saw you; so you need to hide somewhere, and the little camouflaged hut where you'd do that is in fact known as 'a hide'.
We shop at a shop (Answer 1) and mind about what's on our own, or someone else's, mind (Answer 2); bird-watchers hide in a hide (Answer 4). But we can meanwhile 'fish out' something (the idea being comparable to 'fishing', i.e. the process of getting hold of what we're after may be in some sense intrusive and/or time-consuming, such as fishing out an old photograph or financial document) ~ as in Answer 3.
Author:  Ian Miles

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