Convert

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The word convert can be either a noun or a verb. The two forms have different pronunciations, chiefly differing in their stresses.

  • The verb 'to convert' has the stress on the second syllable, 'kern-VERT', IPA: /kən ˈvɜːrt/. It broadly means 'to change' - the use of something, or the religion of a person. There are figurative uses.
  • The noun 'a convert' has the stress on the first syllable: 'CON-vert', IPA: /ˈkɒn vɜrt/. This always has the meaning to do with religion: a convert is one who has changed faith "She was born Christian, but became a convert when she married a Muslim." Other meanings are figures of speech drawn from this meaning, in politics for example, or as the supporter of a sports team: "His father supported Manchester City, but United's success made him a convert."

You may want to see Converse for a similar note on a similar phenomenon.

Note
This pattern of shifting stress in words that look identical but belong to two separate word classes is quite common in English. Quirk (1985) (Appendix I.56 B) remarks: "When verbs of two syllables are converted into nouns, the stress is sometimes shifted from the second to the first syllable. The first syllable, typically a Latin prefix, often has a reduced vowel /ə/ in the verb but a full vowel in the noun:
He was con-VICT-ed (IPA: /kən ˈvɪkt ɪd/) of theft, and so became a CON vict (IPA: /ˈkɒn vɪkt/)" (AWE's rendition of IPA).
There follows a list of some 57 "words having end-stress as verbs but initial stress as nouns in Br[itish] E[nglish]." Note that "in Am[erican] E[nglish], many have initial stress as verbs also". Quirk's list is the foundation of AWE's category:shift of stress. Additions have been made from, amongst others, Fowler, 1926-1996.