Is there a term for words that can be only used as nouns? For example, I think "history" and "sofa" are such words, but "book" and "dog" are not.

I'm looking for a list (preferably with frequency/commonality) of such words, but I don't even know which term to look up.

  • 7
    All nouns can be verbed. Verbing weirds language.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 14:27
  • 1
    I can understand this notion in general, but aren't well-known dictionaries (e.g. Oxford) list some words as nouns only and others as noun and some other parts of speech (e.g. verb)? Like here: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/…
    – Avia Efrat
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 15:20
  • 1
    @AviaEfrat Dictionaries describe usage; if "history" or "sofa" became a commonly used verb somewhere in the English-speaking world, the Oxford English Dictionary would list it as a verb. As far as I know, there is nothing grammatically different about those words which stops them being used that way, we just don't happen to need them right now.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 15:59
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    @IMSoP I don't think this settles the question. There are the terms polysemy and monosemy for words that have multiple meanings and one meaning respectively, even though any word with just one meaning may acquire further meanings along the way; so there could logically be parallel terms for words that can act as multiple parts of speech, and those that can't.
    – LjL
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 16:15
  • 2
    Shakespeare certainly did (use history as a verb) 1600 W. Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 2 iv. i. 201 And keepe no tel-tale to his memorie, That may repeate, and history his losse, To new remembrance. see the relevant entries in the OED and Unabridged MW (history2, v, obsolete)
    – Alex B.
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 19:40


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