A couple of weeks ago, we acquired a new superhero book. It’s an “I Can Read” book featuring six simplified stories about Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. One of them is called “Superman versus Mongul.” (That’s the one Mrs. Pursell read when Mbot brought the book in for show-and-tell.)
Tonight, after “Harry at the Seaside” (featuring Harry the Dirty Dog (not to be confused with Dirty Harry) and an ensuing conversation about the diet of sea slugs, which was upsetting (“but plants are living things!”), Mbot picked out an old superhero book we hadn’t read in a long time.
“Mom, who does Superman verse in this book?” he asked.
I was mystified. “What does that mean, Moon Pie?”
“It means…who’s the bad guy? Who does Superman fight?’
He was using “to verse” as the infinitive form of “versus.”
This is why I always ask when I don’t understand what he’s said. It’s usually me, not him.
According to www.etymonline.com (the best etymological dictionary I’ve found), “versus” is from the Latin, “turn toward or against.” Today, it would be such a useful word, “to verse,” meaning, “to be against,” or “to conflict with.”
I tend to shy from conflict, unless it’s a rousing intellectual debate with little at stake. But conflict is a part of life–as much as I yearn to, I can’t protect myself, the Bots, or the living plants devoured by the sea slugs from it. Somehow, talking about “versing”–(“Who did you verse today?”), the simple, casualness of the term seems to makes the minor conflicts of daily life seem inevitable–as they are–and okay.
I’m going to start to use it.
Did you verse anyone today?