Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or treat[ing]

For little kids, Halloween is one of the most exciting days of the year. They get to dress up as their favorite superhero or pop icon and then go door-to-door asking complete strangers for candy. The concept defies logic.

I was wondering, though, about the phrase "trick or treat."

Mirriam-Webster Online dictionary: trick-or-treat (intransitive verb)
trick-or-treater (noun)

Example: We all got dressed up for trick-or-treat.

Wikipedia, however, defines the Halloween activity as trick or treating. What happened to parallelism? Shouldn't it be tricking or treating?


Pat said...

You got us there, Cindy. I'd say that parallelism is one of those things that take flight on Halloween ;-)

Chad said...

Haha, that's a legitimate question, Cindy. My understanding is that the three words that comprise the phrase are always meant to act together, not as separate units, and we view the seemingly dual actions of "tricking" and "treating" as, actually, one single action. Thus, we tend to say, "I'm going trick or treating tonight" or "He trick or treated for eight hours!"

This appears to be why any inflected form only appears at the end of the latter of the two verbs.

That's all I got! Other than that, I'm as curious as you!

Cindy said...

The other thing that takes flight on Halloween is the age-old rule of never accepting candy from strangers.