Harborview residence hall welcome for the class of 2016“The 6-foot, 200-pound Iannacone will again be going to school away from home. The Bronx native used to wake up at 5 every morning to get to Xaverian on time for school and is looking forward to dorming.” — “Xaverian's Iannacone inks NLI to Wagner,” New York Post, April 30, 2012

Does anything about the above quote strike your ears as strange? To me, the word “dorm” used as a verb — as in the phrase, “is looking forward to dorming,” and meaning “to live in a dorm” — was a complete novelty that I've heard off and on ever since I moved to NYC to work at Wagner College five years ago. I've lived in and/or worked at colleges and universities in Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee over the past 20 years or so; the term “dorm” has lost favor among student-life-administrator types, who want us to say “residence hall” instead, but never had I heard of the verbification of “dorm” until I reached Staten Island.

It is out there — someone has defined it in the online, user-generated slang Urban Dictionary as “staying with someone in a dorm,” as in “hannah is dorming with alyssa in penn state.” [Sic on the punctuation and grammar there.] When I googled it (there's a brand-name verbification for you), I found it used on a few websites about college life. For example, a collegeconfidential.com forum about Pace University had one student asking, “I'm not in the Honors College but wish I was because I want to dorm in the honors dorms, and I'm pretty sure they dorm in Maria's Tower.”

I asked some fellow college editors around the country about it, and the only one who said it was familiar to him works at Dominican College in Orangeburg, New York. “I grew up in New York,” he wrote to me in an email, “and can tell you that dorm (as a verb) and dorming are both common usages, at least in NYC, Long Island, and the nearby NJ and upstate counties." Another editor pointed out that this usage hearkens back to the French: dormir, a verb, meaning “to sleep.”

Now that the fall semester has started and the students are back, living in dorms (as I would normally say) — or residence halls, as I might write in an official Wagner publication — it reminds me of “dorming” again. Have you heard it, or do you use it? Do college students use it, or their parents? It is regional? Is it spreading?

— Laura Barlament, Editor, Wagner Magazine

  • Fiametta

    I find it ridiculous, almost as bad as using “orgasm” as a verb. (Where did THAT come from?) And saying that it came from the French “dormir” is ludicrous, since that’s where the noun “dorm” came from in the first place. Or actually, it came from Latin, which gave the Romance languages their related words for “to sleep”.
    But using “dorm” as a verb sounds like semi-literate jargon. I can’t tell you how it grates on me.