Figure of Speech: anthimeria (an-thih-MER-ia), the verbing figure. From the Greek, meaning “part swap.”
Forget North Korea’s nukes, Iraq’s chaos, and the Dow’s record high. The media devotes its biggest coverage to instant messaging — that is, the disgusting and possibly illegal IM’s that Congressman Mark Foley sent to teenaged Congressional pages.
Following standard operating procedure for a politician caught in a sex scandal, Foley went into rehab for alcoholism and “behavioral problems,” and announced that he was himself a victim. (He said through his lawyer that a clergyman abused him when he was a teenager.) The confessional M.O. follows that of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who resigned after admitting to a gay affair with the state’s director of homeland security.
The Washington press can’t resist an eponym — a word named after a person. When the name gets verbed, the result is an anthimeria, a figure that converts a noun to a verb or vice versa. Figaro has already verbed a member of Congress — a man who never met a lobbyist he didn’t like and who hopes the Foley scandal will make him Speaker of the House.
Shakespeare used the anthimeria to form “bet,” “drugged,” “negotiate,” “puking,” “secure,” “torture,” and “undress,” among many others. You’d think he was describing a member of Congress.
Snappy Answer: He’s not done McGreeveying until he gets a book deal.