The velocitized Toad

Today’s Zippy, with a speeded-up Mr. (the) Toad:

Velocitize isn’t a Bill Griffith innovation, but it hasn’t been around for a very long time.

It’s not yet in the OED. But from Paul McFedries’s Word Spy site:

v. To cause a person to become used to a fast speed.
velocitization n.

Example Citations:
Safety experts argue that speeding has “velocitizing” effects on drivers, making it harder for them to slow down when conditions change and it’s urgent to do so.
—”The mentality behind the wheel,” The Oregonian, December 10, 2003

He then described a road evil called “driver velocitization.”

“Our freeways have cables on them to keep people from slamming into each other, but drivers become velocitized. When they enter a rural road from a freeway, for instance, and the speed changes from 65 mph to 55 mph, their perception is that speeding is OK, so they don’t slow down,” Vitolo said.
—Carol McAlice Currie, “Raise the speed limit? That’s just plain silliness,” Statesman Journal (Salem, OR), April 15, 2003

Earliest Citation:
But the four-speed automatic transmission upshifts and downshifts very smoothly and the car accelerates well at speed and cruises so effortlessly and comfortably that it’s very easy to become velocitized and suddenly realize you’re driving a steady 80 mph.
—Russ DeVault, “Ford Merkur Scorpio a new touring sedan that deserves raves,” Atlanta Journal and Constitution, June 13, 1987

The causative derivational suffix -izehas been on the march for some time. Here’s Orin Hargraves in a Language Lounge column on Visual Thesaurus, 8/1/11: “The –Ize Has It”:

-Ize‘s greatest claim to fame is its intimate semantic connection with one of English’s busiest verbs: make. Though the two share nothing in etymology, the effect of tacking -ize onto a noun or adjective is to convert said word into a verb that means “make _________.” Thus, final + ize = finalize (“make final”);  vapor + ize = vaporize (“make vapor,” or more idiomatically, “turn into a gas”). Most dictionaries recognize half a dozen additional uses of -ize in verb formation, but the others are mainly figurative extensions of this useful semantic function.

-Ize’s second greatest claim to fame is its durability and robustness. Though it doesn’t appear in English until the late 16th century, when documentation of contact with Romance languages became increasingly available, -ize has been unstoppable since. It is now freely tacked onto words and roots of any origin — not just Greek and Latin ones, which are the languages of -ize’s pedigree. Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary has about 1500 -ize verbs as headwords; the OED has about 2200.

The years from 1950 to 2000 were a golden age of -izing, when hundreds of new -ize verbs appeared in English. Many were regarded with derision when they first appeared, and those that were Americanisms (many) were often sniffed at by the Brits. But these verbs are all mainstream today, used by all without scare quotes or glosses.

Examples from Hargraves (with approximate dates of first appearance in print):

texturize 1950
prioritize 1954
containerize 1956
computerize 1957
weaponize 1957
incentivize 1968
Mirandize 1971
securitize 1981

I’ve been collecting examples for decades, for use in morphology classes. Here’s an open-ended homework exercise from 2008:


In the lists in A-D below are English verbs in /ayz/. These examples are a representative, though of course not exhaustive, sampling of such verbs. They are extracted from Adrian Akmajian, Richard Demers, and Michael Harnish, Linguistics (MIT Press, 1984), pp. 95-6; Hans Marchand, The Categories and Types of Present-Day  English Word-Formation (Harrassowitz, 1960), pp. 255-9; John Walker, rev. by Lawrence H. Dawson, The  Rhyming Dictionary of the English Language (Dutton, 1936), pp. 158-63; John A. Goldsmith, Autosegmental  and Metrical Phonology (Blackwell, 1989), pp. 269-71; and AZ’s notes. The lists in E contain some items not found in these sources; these lists can be extended at will. A few citations in context are given in F.

Your task is to discuss what the grammar and lexicon of English should say about these verbs. How many derivational rules are there here? For each derivational rule, what requirements (phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic) are there on eligible sources? What phonological effects does the rule have on the source?

How is the meaning of the derivative related to the meaning of the source?

This is very much an open-ended question. There is no single right answer.

The examples have been divided into groups and subgroups in what is intended to be a useful fashion; you might want to take account of these groupings. Within each subgroup, the listing is alphabetical and has no linguistic significance whatsoever.

A. verbs with adjective sources

A1. actualize, Africanize, Americanize, animalize, brutalize, capitalize ‘use or convert to capital letters’, centralize, Christianize, civilize, constitutionalize, contextualize, equalize, exoticize, familiarize, fanaticize, federalize, fertilize,  formalize, Gallicize, generalize, Germanize, humanize, immortalize, initialize ‘set initial values’, Italianize, legalize, liberalize, mobilize, modernize, naturalize, nominalize, orientalize, personalize, popularize, publicize, randomize, realize, regularize, romanticize, sensationalize, socialize, specialize, spiritualize, sterilize, tabularize, tenderize, tranquilize, verbalize, visualize, vocalize, Westernize

A2. Anglicize, archaize, catholicize, diabolize, ethicize, feminize, fraternize, grammaticize, grammatize, mechanize, politicize, Scotticize, sensitize

B. verbs with noun sources

B1. agonize, alcoholize, alkalize, alphabetize, analogize, anthologize, apologize, atomize, autumnize,

bastardize, botanize, cannibalize, capitalize ‘supply with capital’, caponize, carbonize, colonize, computerize,

concertize, crystallize, customize, demonize, deputize, dichotomize, diphthongize, elegize, energize, epitomize, fantasize, formulize, fossilize, gourmandize, harmonize, ionize, itemize, jeopardize, lionize, magnetize, martyrize, memorize,  mythologize, novelize, oxidize, parametrize, patronize, philosophize, piratize, rhapsodize, satirize, scandalize, signalize, soliloquize, recitalize, revolutionize, scrutinize, sermonize, skeletonize, subsidize, summarize, summerize, syllabize, sympathize, synchronize, terrorize, tyrannize, unionize, valorize, vaporize, victimize, weatherize, winterize, womanize; cf. *bookize, *fallize, *springize, *talkize

B1′. [cf. terrorize, agonize] *amazementize, *amusementize, *anxietize, *astonishmentize, *confusionize, *delightize, *depressionize, *disgustize, *elationize, ?euphorize, *fascinationize, *furize, *grievanc(e)ize, *hilaritize,  *horrorize, *levitize, ?melancholize, *pleasurize, ?sobrietize, *surprisize, *torturize [note: the items with question  marks might  be coined; but would they belong in group B?]

B2. bowdlerize, Calvinize, galvanize, macadamize, mesmerize, pasteurize, Platonize, simonize, Stalinize, vulcanize

B3. antagonize, baptize, catechize, communize, dramatize, emphasize, evangelize, exorcise, hypnotize, iodize, maximize, minimize, monetize, parenthesize, plagiarize, psalmodize, stigmatize, synthesize, ventriloquize

C. items that might belong either in group A or in group B above

C1. circularize, materialize, moralize, standardize

C2. Arabize, criticize, democratize, economize, journalize, militarize, nomadize, Socialize, symbolize, systematize

D. verbs [spelled with -IZE or -ISE] whose sources, with respect to a rule suffixing /ayz/, are nonexistent or unclear

advise, aggrandize, amortize, apprise, arise, canonize, capsize, chastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise, despise, devise, disguise, exercise, excise, fabulize, enfranchise, improvise, incise, organize, prise, prize, proselytize, revise, rise, size, supervise, surprise, televise, utilize, wise (up)

E. new formations with noun sources (think about what they would mean, and also about near-parallels that are not likely new formations)

E1. compartmentize, condo-ize / condominiumize, fragranc(e)ize, odorize, parcelize, pérfumize, verminize,…; cf. ?cartoonize, ?magazinize, ?perfúmize, ?reviewize

E2. Beckmanize, Bermuda-ize, Bostonize, Celestize, Dowty-ize, Fromkinize, Jakobsonize, Peronize, Reaganize, Thatcherize,…; cf. *Montrealize, *New Yorkize

F. some sightings:

‘The movement’s conflicts…remained ecclesiastical, conducted almost exclusively by clergymen and clericized (or at least theologically engaged) laymen.’

‘But in the 1860s there were dissenting voices.  More typical was the London Quarterly Review, which denounced “the plot for Romanizing the Church of England…”’

‘We specialize and interpret the general outline of the theory given above in the context of science careers.’  [seems to mean ‘apply to a special context’]

‘With the Latinoization of Texas and…’

‘White then seeks to “sinisterize” the rest of my father’s life, offering malign reinterpretations of ordinary events…’

‘Collins casts his book with rip-roaring characters, then sizes them up with practiced ease.  [Roger] Ailes is a needy, talented raconteur, [Ted] Turner is a visionary who wackily rages against being “clitorized” by Time Warner, and..’ [‘feminized’, presumably.]

‘”They are what I call the Wal-Mart-ization of American religion,” Dr. Leonard said, referring to a tendency he sees toward a consumerist approach to religion on their part.’

‘Of course, some see the rise in second-home buying as the Carmel-ization of San Francisco.  (In Carmel, only 42 percent of homes are primary residences, according to a 2000 census.)’

‘And particularly in the middle of so wrenching a tragedy, tone matters as much as content. Hurricane Katrina, even more than 9/11, emboldened television newscasters to fold themselves and their feelings into the story, and that has led to the Anderson Cooperization of the evening news.’

‘”What we see today is the pentecostalisation of Latin American Christianity,” says Mr Chestnut.’


I have many more in my files: Gitmo-ize, conscientizing, Tuscanization, Cape Codization, Atkinized (< Atkins, as in the Atkins Diet), Nascarization, iPodization, hostilizing ‘treating in a hostile or bullying manner’, de-hostiling ‘making not hostile’, Iraqization (cf. Vietnamization), pop culture-ization, a WASP-ized name, Keplerize ‘treat like Kepler’s Bookstore’, funeralized ‘given a (formal) funeral’, disjointize ‘make disjoint’ (in math), eventize a film, juvenilize / juvenalize (several senses), Vermontize parts of Afghanistan, defossilise an economy ‘reduce dependence on fossil fuels’, defatherization (as a result of DNA identification), religiousize the conflict, Politico-ization (< political news site, graduatise ‘restrict entry to a a profession or occupation to university graduates’ (link), thesaurusize / thesaurisize ‘use a thesaurus to find near-synonyms’ (various Language Log postings, summary here), fiscalization of economic discourse (focusing on budget deficits rather than other matters).

(Brief discussion of alternative schemes for causative verbing of nouns and adjectives — zero derivation, -ize, -ify, -ic-atehere, and a survey of -ify words here.)

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