Don't Use 'Addicting' Instead Of 'Addictive'

Let's keep this real easy, folks. If you want to describe something so compelling that it has drug-like qualities, the adjective you seek is 'addictive'. Not 'addicting'. That is, simply, wrong.

Addiction picture from Shutterstock

This is a horribly common error. It pops up all the time; even our sibling title Business Insider Australia has been guilty recently. That doesn't make it right.

To be clear: the word 'addicting' exists, but it's the present participle of the transitive verb 'addict', not an adjective derived from the noun 'addict'.

Here's an easy way to remember, Just as your phone has 'predictive' input, not 'predicting' input, it has 'addictive' games, not 'addicting' ones.

Language changes. Given the increasing frequency with which 'addicting' is being used as an adjective right now, it is conceivable that in 30 years this usage will have been standardised. But at this moment it is wrong, and it is a construction to be avoided if you want your writing to seem professional. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    While we are at it, can we please also explain to the world that it is "I couldn't care less"... not "I could care less".... and no I'm not trying to be ironic there.

      That's an Americanism I haven't seen creep into Australian use. Let's leave it that way!

        I quite like David Mitchell's take on it:

      What's the deal with people saying "more or less"? Which is it? More? Less? Why cant people make up their minds? I figuratively hate it when people are so ambiguous :P

    When would be the correct time to use 'addicting'? Like 'Angus is addicting me to S Club 7.' ?

      Yeah for grammar nerds I'm sure 'present participle' makes it super clear but I am not the best at grammar and these articles are aimed at people like me.

      Use it in a sentence.

    Do Aussies do this to? I thought it was just an American thing..

    For people wondering how to use it: says that transitive verbs require a direct object, so 'Angus is addicting me to S Club 7.' would be right (even if it sounds weird to me?) Their guide is: if you can add very in front of it, it's an adjective

    I had no idea this was a thing people were screwing up until today. I was reading something else online, and someone used "addicting" instead of "addictive". I did a double-take, thought "that's not right" and moved on. I didn't know it was particularly widespread until seeing this article.

    Hmmm, never heard of addicting before. I'm curious about the difference between orientated and oriented. I hear people say the first one a lot and find myself thinking they are wrong because it seems like oriented is the right word. Am I missing something?

    Addicting is an American term, considered a standard synonym for 'addictive', and they use it far more frequently than addictive.

    That said, you shouldn't use it, because even if you are technically correct, you sound like an idiot. Which makes other people assume you are an idiot. Do you want to look like an idiot? No.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now