Broadcast vs Broadcasted as Past Form

By Maeve Maddox

DM wonders about

the usage of words such as “cast, broadcast, and cost.” As far as I can remember the past tense and past P. of broadcast is broadcast; however recently I checked an online dictionary and it has broadcasted. Is this an American standard or has it always been like this?


The three examples, cast, broadcast, and cost belong to that dwindling category of “strong” verbs that continue to change their past forms.

Broadcasted has already made the leap. The alternate form broadcasted is in the big dictionaries on both sides of the Atlantic. Merriam-Webster lists it among the inflected forms:

broadcast also broadcasted; broadcast also broadcasted; broadcasting; broadcasts

The OED gives it a nod in very tiny type after its definition of the radio transmission use: Inflected pa. tense and pa. pple. broadcast. occas. broadcasted.

AskOxford is unequivocally accepting:

broadcast: verb (past broadcast; past part. broadcast or broadcasted) 1 transmit by radio or television.

Although broadcasted has gained acceptance in the realm of radio transmissions, I would hesitate to use the -ed form to refer to sowing.

Broadcast entered the language as an adjective to describe the spreading, or casting, of seed by hand, as opposed to planting it in furrows or holes. The first recorded use of the adjective is 1767. The first documented use of broadcast as a verb, still in the context of spreading seed, is 1813. It acquired its radio sense in 1921.

When it comes to the regularized forms “costed’ and “casted,” writers will want to exercise caution.

In modern usage casted is not universally accepted. It’s not even in the online Merriam-Webster Abridged (yet).

It is in the OED, but only as an obsolete form of cast.

“Elijah Wood was casted as Frodo Baggins,” sounds horribly incorrect to my ears, but an online search for casted without quotation marks brings up 3,030,000 hits; with quotation marks, 1,250,000. These numbers suggest that “casted” as the past tense of cast, at least in the context of choosing actors for a role, will eventually make it into standard usage.

The form “casted” also crops up as a suffix in computer jargon:

Using modern OpenGL and GLSL for preprocessing and ray-casted visualization, the BlockMap and its evolution are used to build a realtime multiresolution renderer for large urban models.

The OED entry offers 83 numbered definitions for cast as a verb, including its use to express the casting of metal, the casting of lots, and the casting of aspersions. For these the standard past form is undeniably cast. (My search also turned up numerous examples of the nonstandard form “casted” in connection with the casting of metal.)

Costed has not replaced past tense of cost in ordinary speech. I don’t think that many native speakers above the age of five would say “The gum ball costed a quarter.”

As a transitive verb meaning “to estimate or fix the cost of production of an article or piece of work,” however, the accepted past form is costed:

Rich world money systems place no value on coral or Amazonian rainforest. They cannot be traded, so they cannot be costed.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


Share


11 Responses to “Broadcast vs Broadcasted as Past Form”

  • Eric C

    This was awesome.

  • Tony Hearn

    I can’t argue with your adduced evidence, except to note that in every dictionary example cited the inflected form is given as the second and therefore less common use. Speakers and writers, therefore who are uncertain enough to ask the question would do well to use the uninflected past (without -ed), and would always be ‘correct’.

    I would take issue, however, with your calling these uninflected verbs ‘strong’ . Linguistic scholars call ‘strong’ those verbs in the Germanic languages that undergo ‘ablaut’ in the past tense; that is, the stem vowel is changed; ‘sing/sang/sung’, for example. ‘Have/had/had’,and the group with a final -t, such as ‘sit/sit/sit’, and our present examples like ”cost/cost/cost’ are a different case. Here the expected -ed would, because the preceding consonant is voiceless, also be voiceless. In other words, it would be heard as a -t. The result is that it is not heard at all and is not written. This means they are slightly irregular ‘weak’ verbs, not ‘strong ones.

    It is, nonetheless, interesting to note the trend towards regularizing these verbs, as you show. This is part of a wider regularizing trend in English, no doubt driven by the large number of speakers who acquire it as a second language and do not therefore have a native speaker’s ‘ear’.

  • Cat Woods

    Ewww, that just sounds nasty.

    “I casted my net of submissions to the editors on my list. It costed me a ton in postage.”

    Makes me think of the preschoolers I teach and not educated writers.

  • Rod

    wasn’t it sit/sat/sat?

  • Kartez H

    This is crazy, the English language i mean if you really delve into its nitegrity.
    As you can clearly see, this language seemed two be infinite

  • AnonyMouse

    I think these terms are accepted as proper terms, because too many people started using them.

    Maybe they just didn’t pay proper attention at school, and ended up making up their own past tenses like ‘broadcasted’ or “casted”.

    And when a lot of people end up using these words, the dictionaries don’t have a choice but to accept them as proper terms.

  • Imran Hunzai

    The assumption is true to some extent but I have seen “broadcasted” being used on a number of channels and websites. I recently checked it for

  • Lucy

    If it all has to do with people using words and then it becomes acceptable – then I’m waiting for “then” to become synonymous with “than” because most people use “then” when they mean “than” these days in writing, and the same goes for “effect” and “affect” – they use “effect” when it should be “affect.” I could list other examples, but it would get too long. Suffice to say, that I think it’s because grammar, spelling and basic usage are not considered important topics in school anymore. Too “old school.”

  • Lynn Stivers

    I don’t care what the contrived argument may be over proper theoretical English, or how our dictionaries change and “evolve” over time… “broadcasted”, “casted”, and “costed” sound ridiculous. It reminds me of five-year-old children arguing over which game is “funner”.

  • Daniel

    I myself am not a native English speaker but the word “broadcasted” makes me cringe everytime I hear it. Unfortunately, I cannot argue against the ongoing change of language as I actively participate in it. The “casted” example is a good one, demonstrating how I would mold existing words to describe things that haven’t been in existence, at least not to the current degree, a couple of decades ago.

    From my perspective, there seems to be a difference between lack of effort or interest (there / their / they’re) in maintaining proper language and active change based on creative adaption beyond the mastery of a language. But that’s just my opinion.

  • John Courneil

    Telecast, telecasted: same thing here. The ‘ed’ sounds kind of weird a lil bit. Makes me smile when I hear ‘broadcasted’ instead of broadcast. Personally, I wouldn’t change anything to those words as they ‘sound’ right in their shorter and, admittedly, better pronounciation ‘cast’. My opinion

Leave a comment: