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Verbing words
‘Adulting’ makes writers cringe

Next month, the Great Bend Tribune’s news editor will teach an “Adulting 101” class at the Great Bend Public Library. The class for teens was named “#Fakenews,” with the description, “Learn how to tell the difference between real news and fake news.”

For those who want to sign up, the class will be at 5 p.m. on Oct. 18 at the library. To register, text @realfake to 81010.

The library’s series of classes for teens is a great idea. The name, “Adulting 101” is not.

For the record, we consider “adulting” to be a fake word. It comes from a noun, “adult,” which has been turned into a verb “to adult,” in modern slang. 

It is supposed to mean acting responsibly or doing grown-up things. This word is not in the dictionary, but “adult,” the verb, has been around now for at least 10 years, when unholytwerp tweeted that he “Grew up in a town of 2k and adulted 10 years NYC.” (Note: we used the pronoun “he,” but the writer could also have been a “she.” We will not use the plural pronoun “they,” because unholytwerp is only one person.)

The verb has since been turned into a noun, the gerund “adulting,” which is, “The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” For example, “I finished all of my adulting requirements for the week.”

It must be added that words are always changing, and it’s not entirely correct to say “adulting” isn’t in any dictionary. “Adulting” is not in references such as Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, which is the preferred reference for reporters who use the Associated Press Stylebook. However, it is in the online Urban Dictionary, and the definition and usage example cited above comes straight from the English Oxford Living Dictionary, also found online. Sigh.

Essayists have been railing against the fake word since at least 2016, urging people not to use it. But it may be catching on because it is a word that hints at irony. It is the reason adults chuckle when children say, “I wish I was grown up so I could do whatever I wanted.”

Rachel Kramer Bussel wrote an essay in Salon titled, “How I learned to love ‘adulting’ — the word, if not the act,” which explains this well. “I love being an adult; I love earning my own income; I love setting my own schedule and planning my vacations; believe it or not, I actually love errands like grocery shopping. What I don’t love is stress and hard decisions and feeling like my life is half over and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to do with it. So when I give myself credit for ‘adulting,’ it’s a way to simply pat myself on the back, and then move on to the next adult action.”

To sum up, the library’s “Adulting 101” series is a great idea. Teens are headed toward adulthood, and during the transition they will assume more responsibility. This series covers topics such as car maintenance, sewing basics, and how to discern whether something is “real news” or “fake news.” Some of us think the series has a terrible moniker, but the name gets the message across. So we’ll end our rant and drop the subject. #Adulting.