This towel kinds to your skin

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From my hotel bathroom in Miyazaki:

This towel makes a lot of bubbles and kinds to your skin.
So, you have a pleasant bath time.

The OED actually has

kind, v., Etymology < kind, n., Obs. rare,
1. trans. To treat kindly or with good will.

with a single citation:

?c1450   tr. Bk. Knight of La Tour Landry (1906) 112   The hynde..whanne the moder of other bestis be slaine, yet woll[e] she gladly, of her gentill[e] nature, norisshe the yonge..and kindithe hem till[e] they may susteine hem selff.

But I doubt that the author of the Foamy blurb consulted any dictionary.

It's interesting that modern English allows nouns to be verbed quite freely, and verbs to be nouned with reasonable facility, but more strongly resists turning adjectives into verbs. It wasn't always so — for example, the OED has these (obsolete and/or regional) citations for good as a (intransive or transitive) verb:

a1794   M. Palmer Dialogue Devonshire Dial. (1837) ii. 16   Her, poor homan, took by upon the death of her husband, and never gooded arter.
1865   R. Hunt Pop. Romances West Eng. 224   Weakly children—‘children that wouldn't goode’, or thrive—were sometimes drawn through the cleft ash-tree.

1567   G. Turberville Epitaphes, Epigrams f. 49v   Whose filed tongue with sugred talke would good a simple case.
1636   J. Henshaw Horæ Succisivæ (ed. 4) i. Ep. Ded. 2   The end of divine reading is to good our knowledge.
1712   R. Blackmore Creation vii. 339   To Ill her Hate, to Good her Appetite, To shun the first, the latter to procure.
1875   ‘S. Beauchamp’ Nelly Hamilton II. ii. 24   Ween han some hops, that flood it gooded them.

And these for soft:

1527   L. Andrewe tr. H. Brunschwig Vertuose Boke Distyllacyon sig. Civ   It softeth the goute podagra in the fete.
1669   Hist. Sir Eger 52   Then the most wound that did him dear, My stones of vertue stemd the blood, I made him salve both fine and good, They softed him, and made him sleep.

1477   Caxton tr. R. Le Fèvre Hist. Jason (1913) 63   Ther is no herte of lady so hard, but by the vertu of youre requestes muste nedes be softed & molefied.
1664   R. Flecknoe Love's Kingdom iv. 49   Thou who the hardest bosom softs; Soften Bellinda's heart.
1830   C. Bury Jrnl. of Heart 43   Some shillings softed his heart, and obtained for me admission.
1888   W. S. Gilbert Brantinghame Hall i. 8   We're a roughish lot, but there ain't one of us as she ain't softed.
1922   C. Guernon Titans ix. 244   So she's softed him up to that, has she, wi' her fears an' her tears an' her tremblin's?

a1500  (▸c1340)    R. Rolle Psalter (Univ. Oxf. 64) (1884) lxxxiii. §2. 306   My hert softid in swetnes of luf.
a1600  (▸?c1535)    tr. H. Boece Hist. Scotl. f. 263v, in Dict. Older Sc. Tongue at Soft  Eftir the tempest of weddir sum parte was softit;
c1650  (▸a1500)    Eger & Grime (Percy) (1933) 412   Your wounds..will soft and sober soon.

Jane Austen seems to have indulged in occasional verbalization of adjectives:

[From Sanditon] The Sea air & Sea Bathing together were nearly infallible, one or the other of them being a match for every Disorder, of the Stomach, the Lungs or the Blood; They were anti-spasmodic, anti-pulmonary, anti-sceptic, anti-bilious & anti-rheumatic. Nobody could catch cold by the Sea, Nobody wanted appetite by the Sea, Nobody wanted Spirits, Nobody wanted Strength.—They were healing, softing, relaxing— fortifying & bracing—seemingly just as was wanted—sometimes one, sometimes the other.

And some contemporary poets feel free to do so:

it was half-overheard, a wisp of talk:
escape flight free soil
softing past her shoulder
-Adrienne Rich, "Harper's Ferry"

So what happened, syntactically speaking, to deprive the rest of us of this option?

Update — As Sally Thomason points out in the comments, there's a relevant Calvin & Hobbes strip:

which has been cited a few times here, for example in "Faith, Hope and Charity — All verbs?", 12/15/2004.



21 Comments »

  1. Laura Morland said,

    May 12, 2018 @ 6:51 pm

    Universal verbing privileges would indeed be the kinder option.

  2. David L said,

    May 12, 2018 @ 7:42 pm

    You can better things and even best them, so it certainly seems unfair that we are not allowed to good them.

  3. mgh said,

    May 12, 2018 @ 7:43 pm

    there's examples like "green your home/office/life". not sure why that one's ok.

  4. Sally Thomason said,

    May 12, 2018 @ 9:45 pm

    It's the topic of a classic Calvin & Hobbes strip (and a copy of that strip is on my office door):
    https://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1993/01/25

  5. martin schwartz said,

    May 12, 2018 @ 11:41 pm

    Benjamin Lee Whorf or Jorge Luis Borges or Benjorge Lys Vorfes
    might have said, Some languages might say,
    Bubbles a lot and kinds to your skin.
    Jetlagged in Vienna, greetings to all, and goodday/goodnight Laura Morland wherever you are (Berkeley? Paris?)
    Martin Schwartz

  6. Zizoz said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 1:48 am

    Is the 1712 citation for "good" really using it as a verb? I'm parsing it as "her appetite is to (i.e. for) good".

  7. David Morris said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 2:49 am

    Intransitive (as here) – This towel kinds to your skin – or transitive – This towel kinds your skin?

  8. martin schwartz said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 3:55 am

    Extransitive omniverbal :
    (proximate tense) towels, bubbles, kinds yourselfskinning.
    An extreme instance from a putative British Colcasian dialect., but easier to pronounce.
    Martîn Benjly y Gorjes Swhorfs.

  9. Phil Jennings said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 6:03 am

    Adjective good > verb 'gooden,' as likewise with soft > 'soften.' I think a hunt for gooden would turn up many hits even into recent times.

  10. Yerushalmi said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 8:46 am

    I could've sworn it said "this towel binds to your skin" the first time I read the heading, and did a double-take.

  11. Ginger Yellow said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 10:26 am

    Don't forget 'big' –> 'embiggen'

  12. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 11:27 am

    The ADJ+en formation is quite common but does not seem to be completely productive, which is one reason why native-speaker intuitions may vary as to the cromulence of "embiggen." Note e.g. that we have "whiten," "blacken," and "redden," but the pattern does not extend to all other colors. In the examples above, fwiw, it seems like "to soften" would in many instances substitute adequately (leaving aside issues of poetic meter) for "to soft," but perhaps in a few it wouldn't. I suppose there are perhaps two concepts — to act softly toward and to make soft(er) — that often but not invariably overlap in practice.

  13. FM said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 1:11 pm

    @mgh I suspect that v. 'green' has been around for a long time, as in what happens in spring. So was formed when such things were allowed, per MYL.

  14. Sniffnoy said,

    May 13, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

    How sure are we that this is the adjective "kind" being used as a verb? Maybe it's the noun "kind", not being used as a verb. I.e.:

    This towel makes a lot of (bubbles and kinds) to your skin.

  15. DaveK said,

    May 14, 2018 @ 9:42 am

    @mgh and FM: there’s also “yellows” as a verb. “Blue” can also be verbed although that seems to be more a technical term in laundering and gunsmithing.
    It seems impossible to tell if the colorverbs come from the adjectives or the nouns.

  16. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 14, 2018 @ 11:16 am

    There are also verbs "to white" and "to black" that may be semi-archaic and may or may not be perfect synonyms for "whiten" and "blacken,"* but they're Out There.

    *In particular "blacken" seems unidiomatic in the specific sense "apply black shoe polish to footwear that's supposed to be black," as in e.g. this sentence from a 19th-century novel: "Fullalove replied that the colonel had got a servant whose mission it was to black his shoes."

  17. Chris Button said,

    May 14, 2018 @ 7:01 pm

    @ David Morris

    Intransitive (as here) – This towel kinds to your skin – or transitive – This towel kinds your skin?

    I think that's the crux of the issue. A compound of copula (is) plus adjective (kind) is essentially an intransitive verb anyway.

  18. Yuval said,

    May 14, 2018 @ 7:59 pm

    The towel kinds to your skin or else it gets the hose again.

  19. Rubrick said,

    May 14, 2018 @ 11:00 pm

    I'd like to belatedly opine that softing is quite lovely.

  20. Dr. Decay said,

    May 15, 2018 @ 1:53 am

    Also Hamlet: "Soft you now, the fair Ophelia." Here the verb seems to mean "shut up".

  21. Ralph Hickok said,

    May 15, 2018 @ 7:18 am

    And the famous soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet: "But soft, what light from yonder window breaks." In effect, Romeo is telling himself that he should speak softly so she won't know he's there.

    When I was young (let's say 70 or so years ago), my mother used something called bluing, which was said to blue the laundry. I suspect it was similar to whatever was used to give elderly women blue hair some years later.

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