It’s A Verb Already! — Do you Kindle? Are you Kindling?

By Emilia Vitale, staff writer

SAN FRANCISCO (RushPRnews) 03/14/09 — Do you kindle? Are you kindling right now? Do you have an Amazon Kindle, and do you know that kindle is now being used as a verb by bloggers around the world? Yes, there’s a new word out there in the blogosphere, online and onblogs and websites in most of the English-speaking world, and that newword is a verb — to kindle, and the “-ing” form kindling — that has taken on the meaning of “reading on a Kindle e-reader device from Amazon.

“Kindling” in this context isn’t intended to start a fire — unless it’s a mental one. “Kindling” means reading books or other subscription materials on a sleek, portable reading device produced by Amazon that connects to the Internet by wireless.

Kindle is another example of a corporate name that has been turned into a popular verb. There are others, too: to xerox something, to photoshop a photo, or to facebook someone. Language is a never-ending story. Emily Dickinson might have said: “Language is that thing with wings.”

The Urban Dictionary in California has accepted “kindle” as a verb, and the word — as a verb — is catching on, from blog posts on the New York Times website to online forums at Treehugger.com and Kunstlercast.com. The way the new verb form was submitted the editors at Urban Dictionary, which is run by a 20-something man who works at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California was like this, according to sources deep within the hidden confines of the evolving blogoteria:

“Kindle: To read a book or a newspaper on a Kindle e-reading device.”

Usage examples:

“I’m kindling now, I will call you back in ten minutes.”

“I’m kindling
the newspaper now, can’t chat, will return call in one hour.”

“Do you
enjoy kindling with your Kindle?”

“Hey, I’ve been kindled. My latest book was packaged by Kindle as a Kindle book and you can read it on Kindle now. It feels kind of good to be kindled.”

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“My book was out of print for a long time, but a new publisher reprinted it and put it on the Kindle book list and you could say my book has been rekindled. I love it!”

In a press release two years ago, Amazon press people had already spoken of “kindle” being used as a verb, to represent the activity of “reading” on a Kindle device, but it took the culture at large a while before “kindle” went verbular in this new context.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO, wanted to talk about the future of reading, but in a small, not braggadocio way. He said he didn’t want the name of the reading device to be “techie” or trite, and also wanted it to be memorable, and meaningful in many ways of expression, from “I love curling up with my Kindle to read a new book” to “When I’m stuck in the airport or on line, I can Kindle my newspaper, favorite blogs or half a dozen books I’m reading.”

Judy Goldberg in Delray Beach, Florida, told me she already uses kindle as a verb, noting: “I’ve owned my Kindle for almost 6 months and love it. When I mention I’m reading a particular book, I refer to it as ‘I’m Kindling such and such a book’, so it’s already a verb to me. It’s hard to imagine reading a regular book now.”

Not everyone agrees that kindle will make a good verb.”I think this is the first time I’ve encountered ‘kindle’ as a verb,” one blogger on the Internet said last November in a comment thread, almost six months ago. “Clever, but it sort of makes my skin crawl.”

So do you kindle? Are you kindling now as we speak? Do you own a Kindle? Will you use kindle as a verb, or does it sort of make your skin crawl, too?

Stay tuned. As one top computer industry reporter based at the New York Times bureau in San Francisco where I live and work told me in a recent email about this new use of the word kindle: “Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.” See Jane kindle. Watch Dick kindle.

Emilia Vitale, a graduate of the University of Oregon, is a RushPRnews writer based in San Francisco.

She may be contacted at emilia@rushprnews.com

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