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Nerf(ed)

verb; zero derivation
To have lost its effectiveness, usually used to describe weapons within video games.
 
Usually applies to a weapon within a shooting game that used to be effective but due to how effective it was experiences a backlash in the next game, drastically reducing its effectiveness. This is a zero derivation from the brand of toy guns, “nerf guns,” that shoot little Styrofoam darts or bullets. The new gun is therefore compared to a toy gun, underlining the new gun's ineffectiveness. This is an element of analogy within the word, but it is primarily a zero derivation as “nerf” is actually just the name of a brand and is a noun, but here becomes a verb to “nerf.” This is similar to what happened with the brand of machines “Xerox”, as “xerox” became just the act of copying. “Nerf” started out as a brand of toy gun and became the act of making a gun less effective or toy-like. Here the elements of analogy and zero derivation are combined to form this new use of “nerf.”
Etymology : Zero Derivation of “nerf” as a noun to “nerf” as a verb.
Source : “What the heck? They nerfed the machine gun this time...” - College Student talking during a video game. August 2010.
Last modified: 9 December 2010


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