Here is some context:

I am watching a Netflix show called Warrior Nun. It is about a girl "who wakes up in a morgue with a new lease on life and a divine artifact embedded in her back." (Wikipedia).

This girl, Ava, now has supernatural powers. But she doesn't know her full potential and how to use them. So, she goes to the very scientist who has been hunting her all this time, and she makes a deal.

Scientist: What brought you here?
Ava: You were looking for me.
Scientist: I'm a curious person. And, well, you're a curiosity.
Ava: You want to know what I am.
Scientist: The research we do here is cutting edge. But you are something altogether different. I would love to learn what you're capable of and why.
Ava: Seems we have something in common then. I want you to science me.
Scientist: Science you?
Ava: I wanna know everything. So I can figure out for myself what to do about it.
Scientist: Sounds like we can help each other.
Ava: You get your answers. I get mine. And then afterwards, you leave me alone.

Given how the scene is pretty serious (Ava surrendering herself), I don't think this usage is meant to be funny. Although it isn't the "correct" way to use the word science, anyone would totally understand what is meant:

I want you to study me, run tests on me, do your experiments, figure out what is this metal thing in my back, tell me about my powers, etc., etc., etc.

My understanding of "science me" here is "study me, run tests on me, do your experiments".

In this scene, she isn't scared or nervous, and so "babbling" or "gibbering" aren't valid reasons. Ava clearly knows what she wants to say, because after a few minutes of testing and screaming she says

Scientist: I don't know what's possible yet.
Ava: So run more tests.


  • Can we actually use "science" as a verb like that outside of movies in both speech and writing? Can we expect most people to understand the usage and not be confused? Is this only acceptable in informal contexts?

  • Are other forms — "scienced" and "sciencing" — also possible? Do the following make sense (I made them up):

    1. Biologists have been sciencing day and night to find a cure.
    2. Subjects who are immune to the virus volunteered to be scienced. The secret to the antidote is hidden somewhere in their genes.
  • (Bonus) Can other words — history, mathematics, philosophy, etc. — be used in similar idiomatic expressions like "science me"?

  • 4
    Even in the context here, it is evident this is not standard English. "Scientist: Science you?" clearly indicating this is not normal usage. Jul 5, 2020 at 20:12
  • 2
    Before someone posts the cartoon..."verbing weirds language"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 5, 2020 at 20:23
  • @DrMoishePippik Sure, I didn't say it was standard English. With the context, it makes sense. It is something I would expect to see in TV, but I am not sure if this is something one can use in real life. There are many examples of non-standard English that we consider standard today. For example, "upvoting/downvoting" here in SE, which are not real words in dictionaries.
    – AIQ
    Jul 5, 2020 at 20:58
  • 1
    @DrMoishePippik Also, it isn't clear that the scientist's reply indicates it is not normal usage (the reply itself doesn't necessarily say anything about the oddity of the usage). What if the scientist is just surprised that the girl she has been hunting to study is here and giving herself up. Like "I want you to study me" - "Study you?" or "I want you to experiment on me" - "Experiment on you?"
    – AIQ
    Jul 5, 2020 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


It is not "standard" English. It is being used as a joke here. Look how the scientist responds:

"Science" you?

It's clear that he/she doesn't understand what Ava means.

So, unless you are making a joke, don't do this.

For "Mathematics" the same joke works (so don't use it except as a joke)

This problem is hard, so I'm going to have to math the crap out of it.

For philosophy, there is already a verb "philosophize" meaning "to discuss in a philosophical manner (often implying that the person is pompous or boring)

Sophie and Paloma were philosophizing on the "ineluctable modality of the visible", so Jack went to his room to play video games.

  • 4
    'Science' as a verb was prominently used in the 2015 movie 'The Martian' and maybe in the 2011 novel it was based on. An astronaut is stranded on Mars and needs to apply his scientific knowledge to provide oxygen, water, food and communication. He says (to himself and a video camera) "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this".
    – Sydney
    Jul 5, 2020 at 21:27
  • Yes, I was riffing of that in my math quote.
    – James K
    Jul 5, 2020 at 21:29
  • @JamesK I agree that it is not standard English. But it does make sense in that context - which made me ask if that was idiomatic. And couldn't the scientist's response "Science you?" just be indicating surprise (instead of hinting at the odd language)? Ava was running away from them (the scientist's organization) because she was afraid she would be experimented on. Like "I want you to run tests on me" - "Run tests on you? That is what we have been trying to do all along; you have been running away the whole time".
    – AIQ
    Jul 5, 2020 at 23:40
  • @JamesK I suspected that, but I was talking more to AIQ than to you.
    – Sydney
    Jul 7, 2020 at 11:40

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