Printable Version
Pronunciation: fo-do-shahp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To change an electronic photograph or graphic using commercial photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop®.

Notes: When Google became a common verb, as to google someone on the Internet, Merriam-Webster launched a media campaign bringing the shift to everyone's attention. I have read and heard the new verb photoshop enough now to conclude that we should herald its addition to the English vocabulary. The process of changing a proper noun to a common one like this is known as commonization. It is a common enough way of expanding our vocabulary.

In Play: Altering photos in the past century was a difficult and tedious process that produced easily detectable results. The electronic age has changed all that: "It's a lovely shot of me, Graeme, but could you photoshop twenty pounds off me before I print it?" A process that once had to be left to professionals can now be done by anyone with a photo editor on their computer: "I love this picture of me with June McBride, but I wish I knew someone who could photoshop June out and put a shot of Natalie Cladd in her place."

Word History: In 1987 a graduate student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Thomas Kroll, began writing a graphics editing program, which he called "Display", for his Macintosh Plus. The next year he collaborated with his brother to expand the program and changed its name to ImagePro. The year after that, 1989, Thomas renamed his program Photoshop® and sold 200 copies bundled with a now defunct scanner. In the meantime Thomas licensed his product to Adobe and in 1990 Photoshop® 1.0 was released for the Mac only. Kroll built the name of his product by shortening photography to photo and adding it to shop. Photography is composed of Greek photos "light" and graphein "to draw, write" plus the English noun suffix -y. Now his creation is a common verb in English.

Dr. Goodword,

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