Verbification at Work

By Maeve Maddox

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Trudy Ripka writes

I have come across recipes which are made into healthier versions of the original.  My problem is accepting the word “HEALTHIFIED”.  There is a particular site which uses this and a lot of the readers dislike the term; I am included.  This could be a case of “verbing adjectives”.

Whatever we call it, something is going on. Apparently just about any word can be turned into an -ify verb and then back-formed into a -tion noun.

healthify and healthification:

“Healthified” Fluffy Orange Fruit Dip

“Healthified” Chicken Pot Pie

`Healthification’ and the Promises of Urban Space

Fit or Fad: The Healthification Of Starbucks Foodstuffs

greenify and greenification:

Greenify for Better Business

5 Ways to Greenify Your Home

How have you greenified your home?

The Greenification of Walmart

friendify and friendification:

You’ll now receive a “Friendifcation Notification”. . . when a member adds you to their friends list.

our current MySpace policy is to friendify anyone with an interesting looking avatar . . . If you get friendified by someone you don’t know, it’s probably because you have a cool avatar.

blogify and blogification:

Creativity Has Now Been Blogified

So we have blog-this and blog-that, basically everything has been blogified . . .

blogify: To dramatize or overexaggerate. To describe otherwise bland subjects in a horribly depressing and/or dramatic manner. To make dreary . . .– Urban Dictionary

I’m wondering when the schools are going to get around to grammifying their students. I’d say that a little grammification is in order.

Joking aside, use drives usage. When a word is felt to meet a need by a large number of speakers, it will find a place in the language. The word gentrification, for example, has won acceptance with the meaning

The process by which an (urban) area is rendered middle-class. –OED

The fate of these new -ify verbs is uncertain. Many of the writers who are using them are uncomfortable enough to enclose them in quotation marks. Writers and speakers who don’t want them to catch on can choose not to use them.

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11 Responses to “Verbification at Work”

  • Jon

    Newspeak looms over us. Simplification and standardisation…

    Any + “ify” = verb, to become or apply
    Any + “ify” + “tion” = noun, the act of becoming or applying

    Whilst I don’t have an issue with this per se, it can serve to narrow vocabulary, and “blandify” it.

    The possibilities for thinning out all those surplus, and irregular words are endless.

    Bigification and smallification?

    Argh – the urban dictionary has a definition for bigify. It’s happening already! even defines smallify as: “verb, To unembiggen. Shrink. Make less space-takey-uppy.” I know it’s not exactly the OED, but give it time…

  • Maeve Maddox

    Oh dear.

  • Chad

    Reminds me of 1984. Our language is adapting “ungood-wise” to the times.

  • Glenn Kelly

    My first “writing tips” e-mail contained the instruction “Click hereto down load your free grammar book” However, when I tried to click, the link was not active. Please re-send.

    Thanks for your help.

  • Dee

    “Pornify” and “pornification” come to mind. I don’t have an objection to those, because they have useful meanings and I can’t think of existing, simpler equivalents. Some of the ones you cite above are pretty absurd, though.

    I’ve been known to use “destinkify” and “destinkification” to refer to bathing, but that’s…ah…a joke. Now my husband does it too – makes up silly, unnecessary words. It’s fun, but I wouldn’t use them in writing.

  • Valerie

    But isn’t English fabulously inventive and versatile!

  • Jon

    In time, perhaps use of “friendify” instead of “befriend” will die out.

    Language evolvifies and adaptifies with the times.

    I’m sure there was much wailifying and gnashification of teeth (gnashifying?) when the verbs “to telex” and “to fax” entered the language.

    Both are fadifying away into archaic relics.

  • Bernadette

    Is it all a case of laziness, or is it a case of trying to ‘sound important’, or a little bit of both?

    Either way, I’ll take the extra couple of seconds and formulate a sentence instead of making up a word.

  • Stephen POWELL

    Your item on the word “healthify” reminds me of my dislike for food that is described as “healthy” when I feel that “healthful” should be used.
    Yes, the chicken looked very healthy when it was running round the farmer’s yard, but now that it sits fully cooked on the table I prefer to think of how healthful it will be.

  • Precise Edit

    “Beautify” is common, “uglify” less so. But if one is acceptable, why not the other?

    On the other hand, I will resist “fryify,” which, I suppose, is the action of making something fried. The problem here is making a new verb form from an existing verb.

    Ain’t language fun?

  • Eric C

    depends on how it rolls off the tongue. Healthify makes me want to throw up.

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