The IZE Have It

Languages have special ways of churning out new words as needed. Sometimes, the artificiality of these words can be recognized by a common suffix. For instance, many nouns that we borrowed from French over the centuries still bear their common -age ending.

In the 50's, a whole sub-dialect of contrived English was discovered, and mocked. This was the argot called ad-speak or Madison-Avenue-ese. One feature of ad-speak was regularly singled out for the ugly-sounding words that resulted: the creation of verbs and nouns by appending an -ize or -ization. No matter how bizarre or cacophonous the result, the practice continued, and soon was carried over into the body of American English.

It's only fair to point out that this method of producing new words, perhaps most associated with the American form of English, has been practiced, mocked and apologized for over hundreds of years. William Safire quotes a letter from Benjamin Franklin to David Hume, in 1760, in which he apologizes for the use of the words pejorate, colonize and unshakeable, repenting that these are bad or low coinages!

And in another article, Safire blames the 16th century poet Thomas Nashe for inventing the suffix -ize as a means of easily generating new and longer words. Safire turns to the current popularity of operationalize in place of carry out or implement, and then remarks that

"My job is to hoot at this Nashe-ization for a few years, supported by the dwindling legion of those determined to stay the course, and then to cut and run with the usage antelopes."

If it weren't already used for another meaning, we'd have writers authorizing their books!

Herewith, a short list of some of the more shocking, disconcerting, or regrettable words formed with IZE or IZER or IZATION:

Last modified on 21 June 2022.