Bisyllabic stress alternation

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Bisyllabic stress alternation is a stress pattern that goes back to the Old English stress system, whereby verbs tended to have final (ultimate) stress, and nouns tended to have prefinal or penultimate stress. Today this survives in a few dozen pairs of words, including, oddly, some common words of Latin origin.

1 Latinate noun/verb pattern

Some words exist as verbs, and have an alternate life as nouns or adjectives. Some of these bisyllabic words have different stress patterns – ultimate stress for the verb forms, but changing to penultimate stress for their adjective or noun forms. A typical example is to recórd a récord. These are words from Latin that have become common enough to adopt the OE stress patterns. Most of these, like record, object, etc. are noun/verb [N/V] pairs, and most words in this list are also N/V pairs, except as noted, i.e., verb / adjective [V/Adj.] pairs and noun / adjective [N/Adj.] pairs. The word minute has distinct pronunciations: Noun=/mˈɪnɪt/, Adj.=/maɪnˈyu:t/.

noun verb / adj.
cónflict [controversy] conflíct [to clash]
cónduct [one’s behavior] condúct [to lead, guide]
cóntent(s) [subject matter] contént [be satisfied]
cóntest [competition] contést [to dispute, challenge]
désert [barren region] desért [to abandon]
dígest [synopsis, summary] digést [to absorb]
éxploit [notable act, adventure] explóit [to take advantage of]
íncrease [enlargement] incréase [to make larger]
óbject [item] objéct [to oppose, disagree]
pérmit [written license] permít [to allow, consent]

The following is a complete list of such variations; those marked with an asterisk [*] are rare variants.

Noun Verb/Adj.       Noun             Verb/Adj.            
abstract abstract inset inset
accent accent inset inset*
addict addict insult insult
affect affect interchange interchange
affix affix interdict interdict
alloy alloy intern intern
ally ally introvert introvert
alternate alternate invalid invalid
annex annex* [UK] inverse inverse
August august invite invite
combat combat minute minute
combine combine misconduct misconduct
commune commune misprint misprint
compact compact object object
compound compound perfect perfect
compress compress perfume* perfume
concert concert permit permit
concord concord pervert pervert
conduct conduct postulate postulate
confines confines prefix prefix
conflict conflict presage presage
conscript conscript present present
conserve* conserve proceeds proceeds
console console process process
consort consort produce produce
construct construct progress progress
contact contact project project
content content prolapse prolapse
contest contest protest protest
contract contract purport purport
contrary contrary quadruple quadruple
contrast contrast rampage rampage
converse converse rebel rebel
convert convert rebound rebound
convict convict recap recap
decoy decoy record record
decrease decrease recount recount
defect defect referee referee
descant descant refill refill
desert desert (cf. dessert) refit refit
detail detail refund refund
dictate dictate refuse refuse
digest digest rehash rehash
discard discard reject reject
discharge discharge rejoin rejoin
discount discount relay relay
discourse discourse* remake remake
entrance entrance (=captivate) remount remount
escort escort replay replay
essay essay* reprint reprint
excess excess* rerun rerun
excise excise resumé resume
exploit exploit retake retake
export export rethink rethink
extract extract retread retread
ferment ferment rewrite rewrite
fragment fragment segment segment
frequent frequent subcontract subcontract
impact impact subject subject
implant implant surmise* surmise
import import survey survey
impress impress suspect suspect
imprint imprint torment torment
incense incense transfer transfer
incline incline transplant transplant
increase increase transport transport
indent indent upgrade upgrade
inlay inlay uplift uplift
insert insert upset upset

2 Noun-verb compounds

More stress alternations like this occur with nouns and verbs build from phrasal verbs, e.g., <quotation> overlook, upset, outlay, foresee / foresight, outgrow / outgrowth, overload </quotation>

In compound nouns and verbs created from prepositions (like the particles off, over, out, up) plus a noun/verb word root, again a similar pattern is followed. In nouns, the first part of the compound receives primary stress, and the noun base (stem) receives secondary stress. In verbs, the verb stem receives primary stress, and the particle receives secondary stress.These words are usually from phrasal verbs (to hand óut, a hándout; an úpset, to be upsét), which are an Old English pattern. Most of these, like record, object, etc. are noun/verb [N/V] pairs, and most words in this list are also N/V pairs, except as noted, i.e., verb / adjective [V/Adj.] pairs and noun / adjective [N/Adj.] pairs.

NOUN prefix +stem VERB prefix + stem
offset offset
outgrowth outgrow
overbid overbid
overcharge overcharge
overflow overflow
overhang overhang
overhaul overhaul
overlap overlap
overlay overlay
overload overload
overprint overprint
overthrow overthrow
overwork overwork
undercharge undercharge
undercut undercut
underlay underlay
underline underline

3 Phrasal verb/noun patterns

Likewise, phrasal verbs are a type of compound verb, and usually the particle is stressed. But nouns derived from these phrasal verbs again have main stress on the first element.

NOUN prefix +stem VERB prefix + stem
outcast cast out
outlet let out
outlook look out
output put out
turn-off turn off