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NOUN-INCORPORATION. A term in WORD-FORMATION for the creation of a compound in which a noun is incorporated into a verb as its first element: baby-sit, house-hunt, sleep-walk. Such forms go back at least to the Middle Ages, as with backbite (c.1300) to bite someone on or behind the back. They are often nonce or stunt usages, sometimes with a touch of humour: backseat-drive, ballroom-dance. They generally have two sources: (1) BACK-FORMATION: eavesdrop from eavesdropper; kidnap from kidnapper; mass-produce from mass production; window-shop from window-shopping. (2) The conversion of a noun-noun compound to use as a verb: fingerprint, as in fingerprinting suspects; scent-mark, as in: ‘How often a cat scent-marks varies according to how old it is’ (BBC WildLife, Jan. 1989).

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