Defending 'champion' - as a verb, not just a noun

Defending 'champion' - as a verb, not just a noun

I was delighted by Mary Schmich’s column in the Sunday, Aug. 30, Chicago Tribune, headlined “9 things to love right now.”

The best, to me, was “2. The word ‘punnet.’ “ One of Schmich’s readers, Fritz Plous, called it to her attention. A punnet is “a small container or basket for berries or other fruit,” Schmich wrote.

A caption on a picture of farmstand peaches in punnets, accompanying the column, describes punnet as “a word to be championed.”

Of course, I like the word champion, but it’s unusual to see it as a verb.

That drove me to my dictionary, where the definition looked familiar. As a noun, it’s “1. One who comes forward in defense of another or for a cause; one who defends or maintains; a protector or vindicator. 2. the victor having acknowledged superiority in certain matters; a winner of first place or first prize in a competition.”

As a verb, champion is “1. to challenge to a combat (Obs.) 2. to maintain or support, as a cause or individual; to protect; to defend.”

I suppose you’ll remember  that I’m not always happy with words being used in too many different ways. On the other hand, I like this rare use of “champion.”

If you buy your fruit in punnets, don’t just use the word — champion it!

Meanwhile, champion the word “champion,” too. Maintain and protect its ability to be a verb.

“Champion” needs defending.

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Filed under: Words Worth Defending


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  • I always think of the noun "champion" in the phrase "winner and still champion..."

    Nice work, seriously.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thanks for the reminder that it's not spelled "champeen" in that phrase.

  • Your post got me when you begun it
    With an ennead list and who done it.
    Now whenever one reaches
    For one of the peaches
    I will always remember a 'punnet'.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you! That's fun -- especially for the gift of "ennead." I looked it up, I confess: a group of nine things. Now I'll remember both "punnet" and "ennead." As hot as it is, it's the right time for an ennead of punnets of fruit!

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Does it have anything to do with the Keyes Fiber pints in which blueberries used to come (before plastic)?

  • In reply to jack:

    Do I have a lifeline left so I could call Fats Domino?

  • I think in teaching we used it more as the verb. We used advocate, support, be in some one's corner and champion in efforts to mix up our At risk meetings.

    It's funny how vocabulary use can change with the profession!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks, Kathy. I'm glad to know that you HAD efforts to add variety to your meetings.
    You're right, vocabulary can change with the profession.

  • Hi Margaret - I am an advocate for use of the word, "championed"!
    However, hearing "champion" pronounced "champeen" in boxing-announcer-speak was always funny!

  • In reply to folkloric:

    Thanks, folkloric. I'm glad you're advocating. I agree, "champeen" was always funny.

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