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The noun (and verb) rollback on Stack Exchange means to undo or reverse an edit. I'm not sure if there is a difference between the two, but that's how I understand it.

Recently, I posted the past participle rollbacked, in a comment, and after a bit I looked at it and realised I should have written rolled back.

The problem is that rollback is spelt as one word, so adding the suffix -ed was an automatic gesture. And if I think about it, backed is an adjective, and back is also a verb. Here's another example, double-click, is the past tense doubled-click or double-clicked?

Was I so wrong to write rollbacked?

Why should it have been rolled back (two words)?

Are there cases of compound nouns (and verbs) where either the first noun/verb or the second can be placed in the simple past tense with no changing in meaning? I can't think of any on the top of my head.

  • Here's another quirk of the language: <strike>on</strike> "off the top of my head". – Lawrence Oct 14 '16 at 16:46
  • off the top of my head oops. Thanks @Lawrence. But I might leave that error, because I liked your comment :) – Mari-Lou A Oct 14 '16 at 16:48
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    Compare login but logged in. – snailplane Oct 14 '16 at 18:44
  • @snailplane but the beauty of "rollback" and "double-click" is that back and double are also verbs. By the way, is there some tag I should add? – Mari-Lou A Oct 14 '16 at 18:46
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    @Mari-LouA Back is sometimes a verb, but rollback is a verb–preposition compound, not a verb–verb compound. I can't think of any tags to add that you haven't already added to the question. – snailplane Oct 14 '16 at 18:48
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Tenses always apply to verbs, so to see where to apply it, you need to figure out which part of the compound (or hyphenated) word is the verb.

"Rollback" is a compound word, consisting of the verb "roll" and the preposition "back", as Peter indicated. As such, "rolling" is what you are doing, and "back" indicates where you're rolling (as opposed to rolling forward).

"Rollbacked" would imply that "back" is the verb, as in "to support". Unless you're supporting the edit with a cinnamon roll or used said cinnamon roll to move it back, this is not correct.

A converse compound word would be "backup" -- here, "back" is the verb and "up" is the preposition (see the etymology of 'backup' in its non-compounded form). You haven't "backupped" the files, you've "backed up" the files.

With regards to double-click, "double" is the adverb that modifies the verb "click", so "double-clicked" is the correct form. I can see this possibly being confusing because it could be seen that you're "doubling" the click (or past tense, you "doubled" the click); however, when you tell someone to single click, you just say "click the button", and thus it becomes more obvious that click is the verb here.

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    Side note: rolling forward is a valid thing with respect to edits. It's what you do when someone erroneously rolls something back. Interestingly, I've never seen "rollforward" as a compound. Also, other prepositions generally don't work in the context of edits, except maybe "roll into", which I've also never seen compounded. – Doktor J Oct 14 '16 at 20:44
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In your examples

rollback

is a compound word consisting of the verb to roll and the preposition back.

It is similar to

turnoff

which is composed of to turn and off.

The past tenses are

rolled back
turned off

You may be confusing the nouns with the similar sounding verb phrases

Q: Did you roll back the rollback of the databases?
A: Yes, we rolled back the databases to before the update.

Q: I took the wrong turnoff and got lost.
I turned off the wrong exit.

Walmart is rolling back their prices to be the same as several years ago.

here

In the case of

double-click

the implied verb is "click", and the past tense is

double-clicked

She double-clicked on the "send" button after proofreading her email.

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    "Did you roll back the rollback of the databases?" This would be asking if you undid the rollback itself, restoring the databases back to the state they were in before the rollback. The response you have suggests that you meant something more like, "Did you roll back the databases?" or "Did you do the database rollback?" – jpmc26 Oct 14 '16 at 21:44
  • 'back' is an adverb here, not a preposition. – TonyK Oct 15 '16 at 0:13
  • @TonyK I agree. 1a I looked at the edit. 1b I looked at it. 1c At what did you look? 2a I rolled back the edit. 2b *I rolled back it. 2c *Back what did you roll? – Rosie F Oct 15 '16 at 7:34
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    I rolled the transaction back. In contemporary grammar, back without complement would be considered an intransitive preposition; with complement (e.g. "rolled it back to its former state"), a transitive one. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 15 '16 at 14:04
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According to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/rollback, "rollback" can be either a noun or a verb, and "rollbacked" is presumably the correct past tense of that verb.

But in BrE, I would have written "rolled back" in the OP's example. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/roll gives "Roll something back" as a phrasal verb. By analogy with a word like "rollnecked", "rollbacked" seems like the adjective derived from the noun "rollback", not the past tense a the verb. (But https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/roll-neck gives "roll-neck" with a hyphen...)

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/double-click says "double-click" is a verb, and its past tense would logically be "double-clicked" - though the reference only gives examples in the present tense. A "doubled-click" seems like a noun (i.e. a particular sort of click), but I don't think the word is actually used.

For similar computing terms like "shift-click", "Alt-click", forms like "shifted-click" and "Alted-click" would be very strange, compared with the usual "shift-clicked" or "Alt-clicked".

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    "double", "alt", and "shift" are functioning more-or-less adverbially in those examples. It's always the verb that gets inflected (as the other answers say), and that would be "click". – hobbs Oct 14 '16 at 23:22
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    I disagree that "rollbacked" is correct. The verb is "to roll back" with roll back as 2 words. The noun is rollback, 1 word. Therefore the plural nou is rollbacks, but the past tense verb is "rolled back". – WendiKidd Oct 15 '16 at 5:15
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    I agree with @WendiKidd: just because a compound word is categorized as a verb or a noun doesn't mean that you can just stick -ed or -s at the end.  For example, the plural of passerby is passersby (and likewise for mother-in-law). – Scott Oct 15 '16 at 7:17
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"Rollback" is a natural shortening of "roll back."  Phonetially, an 'l' before a 'b' is easier to do than a 'd' before a 'b', so 'rolled back" is not likely to get shortened the same way ever.  However, if "rollback" gets enough use, it is quite likely that it will gradually become treated more and more like a simple verb and "rollbacked" eventually achieve respectability.  In the year 2525, ...

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  • It will happen much sooner than you think, after all rollback has only "existed" since 1937. – Mari-Lou A Oct 15 '16 at 5:53
  • It takes longer for a compound to get entrenched enough for suffixes to seem natural on the end instead of on the verb when the verb is at the beginning. Probably not 500 years though. That was a tongue-in-cheek allusion to a song. – WGroleau Oct 15 '16 at 13:59

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