Graduating pecadilloes

I hate, hate I say, the currently fashionable use of the word ‘graduate’ as a transitive verb.

In other words, you will hear: “Harold graduated high school last year,” or “Junie will graduate college next year” and so on. When phrased this way, what this is really saying is that Harold did something to the school – as if he had set fire to it, flooded it, painted it, or swallowed it.


If you must use ‘graduate’ as a transitive verb, what has really happened is that the school has graduated him … Harold has taken a series of courses, passes a number of tests, and the school is now acknowledging that he has achieved the necessary skills and knowledge, and therefore awards him a diploma.

The reality, however, is that ‘to graduate’ is an intransitive verb, takes no object, and therefore, the statement should be: “Harold graduated from high school last year.”

Bah. Humbug.

(More info on the incredibly hot topic of transitive and intransitive verbs.)