From Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. Three seperate entries as poems under the By The Roadside section:

(1)

Of obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses of men following the lead of those who do not believe in men.

(2)

Of Justice — as if Justice could be any thing but the same ample law, expounded by natural judges and saviors,
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according to decisions.

(3)

Of Equality — as if it harm'd me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself — as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.

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.
thought

What did thought do? Lay'in bed and beshat himself, and thought he was up ; reproof to any one who excuses himself for any breach of positive orders, by pleading that he thought to the contrary.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Thought (?),

imp. & p. p. of Think.

 

© Webster 1913.


Thought, n. [OE. þoght, þouht, AS. þoht, geþoht, fr. þencean to think; akin to D. gedachte thought, MHG. daht, gedaht, Icel. þottr, þotti. See Think.]

1.

The act of thinking; the exercise of the mind in any of its higher forms; reflection; cogitation.

Thought can not be superadded to matter, so as in any sense to render it true that matter can become cogitative. Dr. T. Dwight.

2.

Meditation; serious consideration.

Pride, of all others the most dangerous fault, Proceeds from want of sense or want of thought. Roscommon.

3.

That which is thought; an idea; a mental conception, whether an opinion, judgment, fancy, purpose, or intention.

Thus Bethel spoke, who always speaks his thought. Pope.

Why do you keep alone, . . . Using those thoughts which should indeed have died With them they think on? Shak.

Thoughts come crowding in so fast upon me, that my only difficulty is to choose or to reject. Dryden.

All their thoughts are against me for evil. Ps. lvi. 5.

4.

Solicitude; anxious care; concern.

Hawis was put in trouble, and died with thought and anguish before his business came to an end. Bacon.

Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink. Matt. vi. 25.

5.

A small degree or quantity; a trifle; as, a thought longer; a thought better.

[Colloq.]

If the hair were a thought browner. Shak.

Thought, in philosophical usage now somewhat current, denotes the capacity for, or the exercise of, the very highest intellectual functions, especially those usually comprehended under judgment.

This [faculty], to which I gave the name of the "elaborative faculty," -- the faculty of relations or comparison, -- constitutes what is properly denominated thought. Sir W. Hamilton.

Syn. -- Idea; conception; imagination; fancy; conceit; notion; supposition; reflection; consideration; meditation; contemplation; cogitation; deliberation.

 

© Webster 1913.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.