#92 Seven Common 3-Letter Verbs

Published on December 18, 2005

=> “Seven 3-Letter Verbs” – practical vocab
=> Word Origin “Gyp” – plus discussion questions
=> “A Time Machine in Another Country” – text
=> Hawaii and Vladivostok – photos and guide
=> In the Next Issues

“Seven 3-Letter Verbs”

Why 3-letter verbs? Well, verbs make your language move. English loves short words, and the more common the word, the more meanings it tends to have. You’ll recognize some of the words below, but the definition here might not be all that familiar.

Take a look at the 7 verbs:
1. bug
2. bum
3. dog
4. dub
5. gab
6. gyp
7. nab

Use guesswork and/or your powers of deduction these 3-letter verbs to place them in the sentences below. These are natural usages, the sentences borrowed from Google group discussions. (There are a lot of interesting groups out there–people that just share letters on whatever interests them. On the Google search box, “groups” is to the right of “images.” Click on it and type in a subject or even a word that interests you).

In the following exercise, remember to use the correct form of the word. Ha!

Teacher Tip:
If you can’t print these materials, write the list of 3-letter verbs on the board. Ask students to discuss what the verbs might mean. Then read–or have a student read–the sentences below, either as dictation or an oral gap-fill activity.

a smoke = a cigarette

On quiting smoking: “She was outside having a smoke and I was inside washing dishes… It smelled soooo good. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to go outside and _______ a smoke from her.”
from alt.support.stop-smoking, April 2004

flame = lover; filthy = very dirty

Madonna’s filthy former flame tells London’s Daily Mail his hygiene was so bad, her daughter, Lourdes, ________ him “Stinky Andy.”
from alt.showbiz.gossip January 29 2002

So just leave me alone, girl
Leave me alone
Stop it!
Just stop __________’ me around
excerpt from the Michael Jackson song “Leave Me Alone.”
from a discussion at alt.english.usage

4. “Most hygienists seem to _________ all the time. Maybe if they shut up
and concentrated on cleaning teeth, they would be on time.”
from alt.english.usage January 17, 2005

Sergei left the car with the sack and $70,000 stuffed inside. She left with $20,000 in her handbag. Then they were __________. Police videotaped the entire arrest and the initial questioning of Nina.
from soc.culture.russia October 29, 2000

Barbara: How much were your Dire Strait tickets? The ones I bought last year cost $75.
Strait409: You got __________, my friend. My Strait ticket last year was $47.
from rec.music.country.western February 15, 2000

Ok, while I really like POA [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (not Abakan!)], and think it gets better with each viewing there are still things and inconsistencies that just __________ the heck out of me…. The stylistic changes were annoying.
from alt.fan.harry-potter December 23, 2004

Definitions & Answers
1. bum
bum = to acquire by begging

2. dubbed
dub = to give a nickname, to rename someone with humor

3. dogggin’
dog = to follow closely or persistently

4. gab
gab = to talk on and on about trivial matters

5. nabbed
nab = to seize grab or snatch

6. gypped
gyp = to cheat or swindle; to be unlucky

7. bug
bug = to annoy, bother, or disturb

“Word Origins: Gyp”

It’s a gyp = The price is too high.
I got gypped = I was cheated or unlucky.

Now about a dumb kids’ joke?

What happens when a mummy doesn’t give you enough change?

Answer: “Egypt you.” (He gypped you).

Where does the word “gyp” come from? Well, not Egypt. And as is often the case with word origins no one is certain. Many people think it comes from the word “gypsy.” If that’s so, it is a discriminatory and derogatory term. But most people who use the term don’t consciously associate it will gypsies, although the simliarities in the sound of the words cannot be denied.

Class discussion:
Consider the following questions:
Should people stop trying to use the word “gyp?”
As a foreign speaker, should you use or avoid using this word?
Think about your native language. Are there terms in common use that might be derogatory or racist?

“A Time Machine in Another Country” – Russia-in-America activity

Russian group Mashina Vremeni performed at the Masonic Center in San Francisco on November 15, 2005. It was more like a “Place Machine” than a time machine. For two hours Russia was transported to San Francisco. Other than my friend Eddy and I, the entire audience was Russian. You could see it: the men’s shoes were shinier, the women’s heels longer than at any American concert. You could hear it too: an usher called me “malodoi chelovek” (thankfully not “muschina”), and Andre Makareivich didn’t say a word in English. Not even “hello.” It’s true, as Eddy noted, that Andre looks “better the older he gets. Why is that? Maybe losing the 70’s disco hair-pile helped.”

Imagine 1500 people in the middle of San Francisco singing the chorus of “Povorot.”

After the 2-hour concert, we left the jammed multi-level parking garage. Eddy describes the event: “very expensive BMWs and Mercedes politely allowed us to exit before them. Thanks! Bet that doesn’t happen very often in Moscow.”

Hawaii and Vladivostok

To see Kevin’s new photos of Hawaii and the South Seas go to

To see Kevin’s in depth travel guide to Vladivostok go to

In the Next Issues

To Cheat or not to Cheat (at school)
American Movie Language, especially Casablanca
An Alphabet Activity for Advanced Learners
and soon… the 100th issue of “ETs in Russia and Elsewhere.”

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