Verb Police: To Architect or Not to Architect?

By Stephanie Murg Comment

Yesterday, we were intrigued and slightly befuddled to read on our sister blog FishbowlNY of Backpacker┬ámagazine editor in chief Jonathan Dorn’s description of recent work on the magazine’s website: “Since last September, we have been architecting what our readers said they wanted: more multimedia content, GPS-enabled hikes, current gear reviews, and loads of interactive trip tools.”

While “GPS-enabled hikes” sound like something we’d like to try, we had trouble getting past Dorn’s use of the verb “to architect” when describing web design. To get a better handle on the verb, we looked to that dictionary of dictionaries, that settler of many a lexical cage match, the Oxford English Dictionary. Here’s what it had to say under architect, v.:

To design (a building). Also transf. and fig. Hence architected ppl. a., designed by an architect; architecting vbl. n. and ppl. a.

The references listed, beginning with an 1818 usage by Keats, all refer to buildings in some way, with the exception of a 1913 description of a man who had “come out of the prison-house of theological system, nobly and grimly architected.” Our Verb Police verdict? Save “architecting” for the architects and try “creating,” “building,” or our personal favorite, the wonderfully elastic “designing.”