Crimes Against English: Leverage As A Verb


While it's common for grammarians and prescriptivists to blame everyone from blacks to women to class distinctions on the erosion of English grammar, they ignore the biggest culprit: modern business-speak. If real life were twitter, I believe most of us would instantly unfollow anyone who uses the word "synergy".

Allow me to add another word to the unfollow canon: "leverage" as a verb. If you think I am merely being pedantic, consider the following. Would you say "I can't managementate my flock of children"? "Don't cry over spillaged milk?"

Of course you wouldn't. You know why? There's already perfectly good root verbs: to lever, to manage, to spill.

Not only is leverage a grammatically obtuse word, it's completely meaningless. When you leverage a project, what are you doing? Are you beginning a project, ending it, or ramping it up? Are you selling it? Are you dancing upon its grave? It's meaningless doublespeak, to obscure the fact that the speaker either lacks clear information or is wilfully misleading the listener.

In a nutshell, unless you work as a carpenter, a homebuilder, a lever manufacturer, or a financial professional, there's little reason to use "to lever" as a word, and even less reason to use "leverage."

I leave you with a quote from 30 Rock:

Liz: " mechanics...revenue stream...jargon...synergy!"

Jack: "That was the best presentation I've ever heard."

Oncoming Hope, out. Argue amongst yourselves in the comments.

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2 Responses to “ Crimes Against English: Leverage As A Verb ”

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