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The word 'thought' has an interesting grammatical property that may or may not be related to the meaning of the word.

Most English nouns can be verbed, that is, turned into verbs, and while it is equally true that almost any English verb can be turned into a noun, verbs that become nouns are with one exception taken from the infinitive or present tense forms of verbs.

That exception is 'thought', which is both the past tense of the verb "to think", and the noun that refers to thoughts. When I first realized this, I thought it merely an odd peculiarity. The more time I considered it, the more I realized how unique it was.

In English, we may go for a run, a swim, or a drive. And we may take a bath, a breath or a dive. And we can have a shake, a spin or a win. In all these cases, the noun is derived from either the infinitive or the present tense of the verb. The only exception to this is thoughts. We don't have thinks, we have thoughts. This goes from the commonplace "my thought was we would want ketchup with our dinner" to the rhetorical "in the Thought of Plato, we find the cornerstone of Western imagination.".

I am not inclined to put much weight in any grand meaning behind this. There could be interpretations on it that thinking, as a verb, is treated differently then other verbs in our mindset. Or it could be a matter of the fact that the irregular past tense sounds better when used as a noun. Or it could be a total accident of history.

If anyone knows anyother nouns formed from the past tenses of verbs, please tell me.


"Thinking" is also used as a noun: "In the history of Metaphysical Thinking"...for example. However, this is less commonly used then "thought", and also doesn't explain why the past tense would be used at all.