The Grammarphobia Blog

Attention, please

Q: I recently came across an article in the Atlantic that described readers in the digital age as “ADD’ed out on an infinitude of choices.” I haven’t seen another example of this initialism used as a participial adjective. Have you? I don’t expect the usage to be widely taken up, but I rather like it.

A: I hadn’t noticed this evolution of the abbreviation for Attention Deficit Disorder. And it doesn’t yet appear to be on the radar of the language types who track such linguistic UFOs.

However, a bit of googling has produced a few dozen examples (spelled a variety of ways) of “ADD out” used as an intransitive verb (“I ADD’d out on it”), a past participle (“you have definitely a.d.d.’ed out”), and as an adjectival phrase (“the ADD’d-out techno-junkie”).

It’s probably politically incorrect for me to say so, but I agree with you: I rather like this usage too.

I’ll bet we soon hear about this hyped-up initialism on language websites. (For anyone unfamiliar with the term “initialism,” it refers to an abbreviation formed from the first letters of the words in a phrase.)

Will this usage have staying power? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t count it out!

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