A lot of times, native speakers use proper nouns like movie names, fictional characters as the verb while speaking. I have heard these statements in a lot of movies and youtube videos.

I will give an example here but I dont have a very clear understanding of how that works so it may be wrong but I think you will get an idea of what I'm asking here.

  1. So let's study chemistry and Walter White(Breaking Bad reference) our way out of this exam.

  2. Some students are PRISON BREAKING our campus. They are trying to leave without attending the classes.

  3. Let's JOHN WICK our way out of this. (Referring to a violent situation)

  4. That was a classic Jon Snow move.

These are hypothetical statements.I just want to understand the correct usage and what mistakes I'm doing here. And how would a native speaker construct such sentences.

If you have any of your any examples of your own along the lines of something like this, please let me know.

  • 1
    There is no verb in your fourth sentence. Instead, Jon Snow is being used as adjective (attributive noun) to modify the noun move. (You could replace move with meal.) May 26, 2019 at 16:32
  • @JasonBassford what about others? Do they feel odd or incorrect?
    – lea
    May 26, 2019 at 16:34
  • 1
    They make sense to me. It's actually a common practice to verbify nouns in this kind of way. In these examples, however, if the person reading the sentences doesn't understand the references, they will have no idea what's being said. May 26, 2019 at 16:36
  • @JasonBassford yeah that's what it is. Veribification of noun. I should have used that as a title. Thanks for explaining that.
    – lea
    May 26, 2019 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


I don't think there are any mistakes in your examples. They are similar to what a lot of people might say. But even though they're like what people often say, they still can be awkward if used in the wrong situation. You have to be sure that your reference is familiar to the people you're talking to or else your audience will be perplexed. Also, these kinds of things are usually said to be clever or funny and not used in formal situations.

I don't know whether you're thinking about a general case of making a verb out of any noun, but in the cases you mention the nouns are characters in movies and TV shows. If you know a character in a show and how they are normally shown responding to a situation around them you can check to see if your verb makes sense by asking yourself if it means 'do something like what the character would do'. You already have the right idea. Just use it sparingly.

I'll usually use the pattern, "do a 'whatever character I'm thinking of'". For instance, there's a character called Wallace in some animated movies, who likes cheese. If I'm going to indulge in some cheese I might say

I'm going to do a Wallace.

If you've never seen 'Wallace and Gromit' you won't have any idea what I'm talking about, but my friends love Wallace and Gromit, so they'll get it immediately. If I want to make it more clear for my audience I might specify the action I'm mimicking

I'm going to do a Wallace and eat all the Wensleydale.

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