David-Antoine Williams writes:
What is the difference between a catch-all and a catch-phrase? Both are compounds formed as Verb+Noun, but in catch-all, the noun is the direct object of the verb, whereas in catch-phrase it is the subject. That is, a catch-all is something that catches all things, whereas a catch-phrase is not something that catches phrases – it is a phrase that catches something. Get it?
Recently there has been some discussion of catch-all type compounds, which Brianne Hughes has named “cutthroat compounds,” after one of the more suggestive of these. Apparently they’re rare, because they violate a general tendency for compounds in English to put the ‘head’ (e.g. phrase) on the right (‘right-headedness’). Compare F. ouvre-bouteille to E. bottle-opener (not open-bottle), which follows the most common English productive pattern, Object-Verb+er. If catch-all had followed the normal pattern, we’d be talking about an all-catcher, as we talk about dog-catchers and wind-catchers.
D-AW went on to write a script that unlurked some cutthroats, searching for verbs with left-headed combinations recorded in the entry. I decided to write a script to try another approach -- look for hyphenated nouns where the first part can a verb and the second a noun.
A WordNet list of 117,953 nouns was reduced to just 3,937 hyphenated words, then further reduced to 916 verb-nouns (i.e. a single hyphen, no spaces) via the Wordnik API, then manually whittled down.
Of these potential cutthroats, the following aren't yet on Brianne's list:
I've been generous with some of these, some might originally be adjective-noun but can also be seen as verb-noun: it can be argued counter-revolutions are things that counters revolutions, cross-questions are things (also questions) that cross other questions (there are more counter- and cross- words like this). Some might just be wrong, but here they are.
Here's the ones it found that are already on Brianne's list:
- shove-ha'penny, shove-halfpenny
And in case I missed any, the full list of 916 verb-nouns is here.