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I'm reading Vernor Vinge's sci-fi novel Rainbows End, there's a line that use "fred" as a verb:

The language in the Gu/Orozco project, while not poetry, had risen above the level of egregious noise. Robert had a surprising amount of fun working with video effects and network jitter. If their project had been shown in the 1990s, it would have been taken as a work of genius. That was the power of the libraries of clichés and visual gimmicks that lay in their tools. Juan was properly afraid it wouldn't count for much with Chumlig. "We need some added valued or she'll fred us." He Googled up some high schools with manual music programs. "The kids think its a tragic form of gaming," he said. In the end, Robert chatted up student musicians in Boston and southern Chile -- far enough apart to really exercise his network ideas.

Basically, Gu and Orozco teamed up to prepare a project, Chumlig is their teacher. Orozco want to add something more to the project, otherwise he felt Ms Chumlig might be unsatisfied -- "We need some added valued or she'll fred us".

Isn't fred a name something? how come it's used as a verb here?

  • Not sure what the author means by 'fred us'. But if it were a name, it would've been capitalized. – user178049 Sep 24 '17 at 12:48
  • In English any word can be verbed. – Kreiri Sep 24 '17 at 13:57
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    My first thought was that it might be a typo for "fire". However, how does Fred behave elsewhere in the story? For example, is Fred known as someone who comes down harshly on those who let him down? If so, maybe "she'll fred us" means "she'll do a 'Fred' on us"... though I would have expected it to retain its capital even then. – rjpond Sep 24 '17 at 19:43
  • @rjpond I would also think it's a typo of fire. Fred is only briefly mentioned as a classmate of Orozco that enjoys (with his twin brother Jerry) messing up things more than getting all As, but nothing special happened to him or got fired. – athos Sep 24 '17 at 22:53
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There is no standard meaning for "fred" as a verb. However, it seems clear that the characters understand it, so they must have a context we lack. One of two things is likely happening:

1) The author has invented new words and phrases as part of the Science-Fiction universe they have created.

2) The characters have information the reader does not. Most likely, a character named Fred suffered a terrible fate. Juan refers to this fate as simply "fred", and Robert understands. We expect the author to eventually elaborate on Fred's fate and why this word exists.

We could search for fred in the context of this book to learn more, but if the author is planning to reveal a terrible fate for Fred we might spoil the surprise. I recommend finishing the book and returning to this question if it still seems unclear.

  • Not 1). There is a guy named Fred, interestingly not an all-A student – athos Sep 24 '17 at 15:41
  • @athos It seemed unlikely, but I wanted to make sure you were aware of the practice. Sci-Fi is a tough field for learning English, since some authors feel the need to innovate. Good luck, and enjoy the book! – user11628 Sep 24 '17 at 15:42
  • Problem is .. I got to translate it. Thx for the suggestion – athos Sep 24 '17 at 15:44
  • I think user 11628 has got this correct. Fred was a fellow student who was perhaps expelled. After that, anyone who was expelled was Fredded. It's quite common slang to associate a person with an remarkable action. "He robbed the bank and did a Ronnie Biggs." (ran away) Or even "He Ronnie Biggsed it" – Matt Jan 3 at 16:42
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I just ran into this question searching about something else and found the answers non-satisfactory, on further research, I found these: https://www.dict.cc/englisch-deutsch/to+fret+about.html Usage examples

Meaning: To worry about someone/something

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    I think user 11628 has got this correct. Fred was a fellow student who was perhaps expelled. After that, anyone who was expelled was Fredded. It's quite common slang to associate a person with a remarkable action. "He robbed the bank and did a Ronnie Biggs." (ran away) Or even "He Ronnie Biggsed it" (Google Ronnie Biggs) To fret about in German is more "Sorgen machen" Mach dir keine Sorgen. – Matt Jan 3 at 16:48
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    Welcome to ELL.SE. The question is about fred, not fret, which is furthermore intransitive in this sense— it is not possible to fret people, you can only fret over or fret about them. – choster Jan 3 at 16:49
  • Actually, I confirm of both your comments and upvoted them, thank you. I didn't delete my response for sake of completeness and for the information the comments to it contain. – Sebastian Jan 10 at 20:35

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