According to some authoritative dictionaries, like Oxford and Cambridge, the word "suicide" can ONLY be used as a noun. With that said, you can't say "A wants to suicide", but need to use the verb phrase "commit suicide" like "A wants to commit suicide" instead; however, I did see some people treat it as a verb, like a sentence "A wants to suicide."

Which one is right? "suicide" or "commit suicide"? Or do they all right, except for the difference between informal and formal usages?


3 Answers 3


This is the process of using nouns as verbs that has been increasing lately. Some call it denominalization, others verbing.

It’s nothing new — verbs have been created from noun forms throughout the lifespan of Modern English and perhaps even before it evolved from Middle English; what’s been different during our lifetime, perhaps, is the rate at which it occurs. (dailywritingtips)

This process particularly permeates all registers of language, and while using it unawares at times, it is often considered controversial and meets with opposition. Thought.co explains:

In a single workday, we might head a task force, eye an opportunity, nose around for good ideas, mouth a greeting, elbow an opponent, strong-arm a colleague, shoulder the blame, stomach a loss, and finally, perhaps, hand in our resignation. What we're doing with all those body parts is called verbing—using nouns (or occasionally other parts of speech) as verbs.

Theoretically, you can transform any noun in a verb.

Verbing is a time-honored way of coining new words out of old ones, the etymological process of conversion (or functional shifting). Sometimes it's also a kind of wordplay (anthimeria), as in Shakespeare's King Richard the Second when the Duke of York says,

  • Grace me no grace, and uncle me no uncles.

Now, the boundaries you set to converting nouns into verbs is still subjective, and can vary according to culture, region, work environment. This site advises:

There’s only so much you can do to champion denominalization or to choke it, but in the end, it’s a democratic process: If a neologism appeals to you, promote it by using it. If it appalls you, demote it by eschewing it. Not every grating verbification will last, and if one that particularly annoys you goes extinct, you can take partial credit because it has always been absent from your writing.(dailywritingtips)

Some believe that in certain cases, using nouns as verbs is simply due to laziness when the speaker can't be bothered with grammar or vocabulary and chooses the easier way out, the way foreigners do when their poor knowledge of a language forces them to over-simplify their sentences.

It is true that people are using he wants to suicide nowadays, and I personally do find it unfortunate, as it looks casual, as James pointed out. I wonder if people do it influenced by other languages where the verb has always existed (se suicider -French, αυτοκτονώ - Greek, etc.)

I would recommend to use the correct expression.

He wants to commit suicide.

or, in fewer words,

He is suicidal.

  • Got it. But I think the "suicidal" is not that quite accurate somehow, as the Oxford explains it "deeply unhappy or depressed and likely to commit suicide", which it seems to be more like an intention rather than an actual action. In my opinion, "suicidal" doesn't mean "commit suicide". Did I get you wrong? Aug 12, 2021 at 1:31
  • But 'wanting to commit suicide' is also an intention, isn't it? Sep 10, 2022 at 12:56
  • @SctopZhang A suicidal person is thinking of committing suicide.
    – fev
    Sep 10, 2022 at 13:00
  • @KateBunting Exactly, the intention is definitely there. Suicidal = intending to commit suicide.
    – fev
    Sep 10, 2022 at 13:01

This NGram graph shows that suicide is never used as a verb in written English, and I have never heard a native speaker use the word as a verb. There is a verb form in French, Spanish and Italian, and I have heard speakers of such languages attempt to use the English word as a verb.

Note that suicide was considered a criminal offence in the UK until 1960: we still say commit suicide, even though it is no longer a crime. Some activists are trying to de-stigmatise suicide by dissociating it with the word commit, which continues to suggest that suicide is wrong in some way. Such activists do use the word suicide as a verb.

  • Hmm, if you change the keywords like this "want to suicide" vs. "want to commit suicide", it shows that "want to suicide" isn't completely 0%, though it's a much smaller percentage compared to "want to commit suicide"... Aug 11, 2021 at 9:53
  • Although ironically, it remains a crime to assist somebody to carry out a perfectly legal act, as the neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, pointed out on BBC Radio 4's The Spark. Marsh, who has terminal cancer, is campaigning for the legalisation of assisted dying. Aug 11, 2021 at 9:54
  • @SctopZhang: of the four entries for 2017-2019, one is Iranian, one is Indian, and two are about suicide itself. See my note about de-stigmatizing suicide.
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 11, 2021 at 11:02

You should say "commit suicide".

The dictionaries are correct for all but the most informal English. Most nouns can be verbed in English, but saying "Stan wants to suicide" is wrong in all but the most casual contexts. And since suicide is serious, one doesn't tend to speak casually about it.

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