Can I use "DM" as a verb, meaning "playing an rpg game at the role of a Dungeon Master / Story Teller / ...? What are some (other) appropriate verbs for this meaning?

For example "Yesterday I DM-ed a fantasy game for my friends." or "Do you prefer to DM or do you prefer to play a character?".

Of course this is not proper English, the context I am asking about is this site solely.

Edit: Note the excellent comment by SevenSidedDie below, saying that GM is a more general verb.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you use this in a sentence for us? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2012 at 8:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ What would the alternative be? "Yesterday, I mastered a fantasy game dungeon for my friends?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Jun 12, 2015 at 12:09

3 Answers 3


I don't see a reason why not. Since every noun can be verbed, we often use DM as a verb in my groups, and we even arm-twist it into Hebrew and conjugate it as a Hebrew verb, which will probably send language purists into paroxysms.

In short, I'm for it. I DMed. She DMed. I have been DMing. I think it's clear enough.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No, this answer is strictly correct even by English language standards. There's nothing subjective about it. :) "DM" has been used grammatically as a verb for decades. It is so correct that there has never been an original verb created for this particular use. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2012 at 0:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Though, I do have to mention, that the word is usually altered to fit the title that the game uses for this job, so you only say you're "DMing" a game that calls you a "DM". "GMing" is the generic term, also sometime (more rarely) "refereeing". If you use "DMing", many people will assume you are playing D&D. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2012 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ A coworker used the word "robust" as a verb the other day, as in "robust the software." Everyone understood what he meant. That's all that matters, in the end, even if people laugh at you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam Dray
    Aug 11, 2012 at 4:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Especially if people laugh at you, I say! \$\endgroup\$
    – lisardggY
    Aug 11, 2012 at 6:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not verbing that weirds language so much as it is the renounification. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Aug 11, 2012 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd have to say that "mastering", as in Game Mastering, or Dungeon Mastering, is or should be the preferred term, if anybody cared enough (I don't). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2012 at 1:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree. mastering is already an established verb with an established meaning ("to master a skill" - to become a master), and it's even used in RPG terminology (in Ars Magica, for instance, you can Master a spell). \$\endgroup\$
    – lisardggY
    Aug 13, 2012 at 6:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AdrianoVaroliPiazza No. As lisardggY says, that word is busy meaning something else. Furthermore, no English native I have ever met online or off has ever used "mastering" to mean that. Since English word meanings are defined by usage rather than fiat from a central authority, "mastering" very definitely doesn't have that meaning. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18, 2012 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I GMed, I DMed, I STed (which is the most awkward one), I Refereed, I Judged... all the names for GM can be verbed! \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Jun 12, 2015 at 2:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note on usage to follow up on SSD's point: The verb used in our gaming groups when back I started in the 70's was "running." Whomever was the DM ran that dungeon, that gaming session. It appears that "to DM" has replaced that term some time ago. (Does that make it a neologism?) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 12, 2015 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are many terms used, and there's no reason to assume that any general, common term has gone out of usage without specific evidence. "Running" is still used, from what I can see, and around here it's used often, both in English and Hebrew. \$\endgroup\$
    – lisardggY
    Jun 12, 2015 at 18:31

Oddly enough, I'd say that 'DM' is wrong on this site though right in normal speech. The latter is because, when new activities arise, new words are needed for them; referee or organize a game are possible alternatives, but they don't convey the proper idea to somebody who hasn't heard of RPGs (and has presumably been living in seclusion for 30 years). 'DM' has a respectable history (I think it was coined by Gary Gygax), and is good enough for normal purposes.

But on this site, 'DM' is too specific; it refers to D&D only, which doesn't seem to be what you want. SevenSidedDie's 'GM' is much the best, though gamesmaster or referee (because users here can be assumed to know what you mean) are possible.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for referee (Cyberpunk reference) although it confers the idea of a zero-sum game which is not right. .. No I have not got a better term. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2012 at 10:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sardathrion It is right for some games, to connote "impartiality", not zero-sum play. "Referee" or "judge" is very common among old-school roleplayers for that reason, including old-school D&D and other games. "Referee" is not considered the best term simply because "game master" and its acronym is more common and doesn't carry any implication about what game or game style is being played. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18, 2012 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding this answer: IMNSHO, "dungeon master" is correct if you're playing D&D or any D&D-style dungeon-based game, which is how it gets used on this site. By contrast, "game master" is also correct for those games: being the general term created specifically to be general, it seems to be correct anywhere "DM", "referee", "judge", or any other term for the role is used. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18, 2012 at 18:14

I think your use of "DM" is completely acceptable, as is "GM". In my playgroup we also use "GM" to refer to the act of houseruling or arbitrating.

For example, "I wonder if Bill will GM my non-RAW usage of [blank] valid?"

"He GMed that monster into existence."

Refering to a previous discussion: "We'll have to let Bill GM that when we play this weekend."


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