Position (verb)
From 'Vocabulary' part of The ABC Of Plain Words by Sir E Gowers (1951)

The verb " to position " is referred to under the heading New Verbs. But there are reasons why it should have a special mention.

Its history is instructive.

In 1935 Sir Alan Herbert wrote:

A pint of bogus verbs in "tion" would make more mischief than a gallon of honest slang. I see with dismay that the verb "to position" has been admitted to the newspapers. . . . now why, Bobby, is "to position" a bad verb ? Not only because we have already such verbs as "to place" and "to space": but because "to position" is itself congenitally feeble. It is not formed from the main verb-root but from a subordinate case (the comical accusative, positionem, Bobby) of a noun derived from the parent-verb. It is like a very distant cousin claiming an earldom.

Fourteen years later His Majesty's Government published an illustrated advertisement to help their campaign for stimulating industrial output. The picture is of a dismayed batsman watching silly-mid-on take an easy catch. Above the picture are the words "See how POSITIONING helps PRODUCTIVITY". Below is written:

Watch a crack cricket side in the field. See how they're POSITIONED to stop runs and scoop up catches. They save themselves sweat by being at the right place at the right time. . . .

Under such patronage position may fairly claim that its battle is as good as won. But it would still be wise for humbler folk to avoid it, even at the cost of having to use three words (put in position) instead of one. The simple place is not always an adequate substitute.

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