Anthimeria (Types & Examples)

What is Anthimeria?

Anthimeria, also known as “functional shift” or “conversion,” is a linguistic device that involves using a word in a different grammatical category than its original function. It often results in the creation of new, inventive expressions or the revitalization of existing language. This creative wordplay can add color and depth to written and spoken communication.

The Origins of Anthimeria

The term “anthimeria” comes from the Greek words “anti,” meaning “against,” and “meros,” meaning “part.” Essentially, it denotes going against the traditional or expected role of a word. Anthimeria has been a part of language for centuries, with examples found in various languages and literary works.

Types of Anthimeria

There are several ways in which words can undergo anthimeria. Some common types include noun-to-verb conversion, verb-to-noun conversion, and other conversions.

Noun-to-Verb Conversion

In noun-to-verb conversion, a noun is used as a verb. Examples of this type of anthimeria include:

  • Google it (using “Google” as a verb instead of a noun)
  • I’m going to bed (using “bed” as a verb instead of a noun)

Verb-to-Noun Conversion

Conversely, verb-to-noun conversion occurs when a verb is used as a noun. Some examples are:

  • A good laugh (using “laugh” as a noun instead of a verb)
  • A long walk (using “walk” as a noun instead of a verb)

Other Conversions

Anthimeria can also involve other types of conversions, such as adjectives used as nouns or verbs used as adjectives. For instance:

  • The good, the bad, and the ugly (using adjectives as nouns)
  • The running water (using a verb as an adjective)

Anthimeria in Literature


Poets often employ anthimeria to create evocative, memorable imagery. William Shakespeare, for example, was known for his creative use of language, including anthimeria:

To lip a wanton in a secure couch And to suppose her chaste! (Othello, Act 4, Scene 1)

In this passage, “lip” is used as a verb, a prime example of anthimeria.


Anthimeria can also be found in prose, adding a distinctive flair to a narrative. Consider this line from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:”

You see the earth takes twenty-four hours to turn round on its axis— ‘Talking of axes,’ said the Duchess, ‘chop off her head!’

Here, Carroll uses the word “axes” in a pun-like manner, shifting from its original context as a plural of “axis” to the tool used for chopping.

Anthimeria in Advertising

Anthimeria is a powerful tool in advertising and marketing, as it can create memorable slogans and brand names. By repurposing words, advertisers can evoke strong emotions and associations, making their products or services more appealing. For instance:

  • Leggo my Eggo! (using “leggo” as a playful imperative form of “let go”)
  • Just do it (using “do” as a noun to represent action or accomplishment)

Anthimeria in Everyday Language

Everyday language is filled with examples of anthimeria. It is often used informally and can add a sense of humor or creativity to conversations. Examples include:

  • Let’s Netflix and chill (using “Netflix” as a verb)
  • Can you photoshop this picture? (using “photoshop” as a verb)

The Impact of Anthimeria on Language Evolution

Anthimeria plays a significant role in the evolution and growth of languages. By repurposing words and breaking grammatical boundaries, speakers can enrich their vocabulary and create new expressions. This linguistic flexibility allows languages to adapt to changing cultural, technological, and societal contexts, ensuring their continued vitality and relevance.


How is anthimeria used in literature?

Anthimeria is used in poetry and prose to create evocative imagery, distinctive narrative, and memorable language.

What is the role of anthimeria in advertising?

In advertising, anthimeria is used to create memorable slogans and brand names by repurposing words to evoke strong emotions and associations.

How does anthimeria contribute to language evolution?

Anthimeria contributes to language evolution by allowing speakers to enrich their vocabulary and create new expressions, adapting to changing cultural, technological, and societal contexts.

Anthimeria (Types and Examples)
Anthimeria (Types and Examples)

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