-ise in verbs


-ise in verbs
-ize, -ise in verbs
1. spelling.
The primary rule is that all words of the type authorize/authorise, civilize/civilise, legalize/legalise, where there is a choice of ending, may be legitimately spelt with either -ize or -ise throughout the English-speaking world (except in America, where -ize is always used). Oxford University Press and other publishing houses (including The Times until recently) prefer -ize; Cambridge University Press and others prefer -ise.
The reason there is a choice is that the -ize ending, which corresponds to the Greek verbal ending -izo (whether or not the particular verb existed in Greek in the same form), has come to English in many cases via Latin and French sources, and in French the spelling has been adapted to -ise. A key word showing the line of descent is baptize, which answers to Gk βαπτίζω and Latin baptizo; the French have opted for baptiser, and a large proportion of English writers and publishers have followed suit by writing the word as baptise. People are generally aware of the choice, but often mistakenly regard the -ize ending as an Americanism; and they find it especially hard to countenance in words which do not have corresponding nouns in -ation but other forms in which the letter s features, such as criticize (criticism), hypnotize (hypnosis), and emphasize (emphasis).
It is important to note that there are some words in which there is no choice: they have to be spelt with -ise because they come from words in which the relevant elements are -cise, -mise, -prise, -vise, or other forms unconnected with -izo/-iso. The most important of these words are given in the table below:
verbs that must be spelt with -ise
advertise / despise / improvise
advise / devise / incise
apprise / dis(en)franchise / merchandise
arise / disguise / prise (open)
chastise / enfranchise / revise
circumcise / enterprise / supervise
comprise / excise / surmise
compromise / exercise / surprise
demise / franchise / televise
The AmE spelling of analyse, catalyse, etc., as analyze, catalyze, etc., is also a separate matter: see -YSE, -YZE.
2. status of such verbs.
The oldest English verb in -ize is baptize (13c), mentioned above. Other examples over the centuries are authorize (14c), characterize (16c), civilize (17c), fossilize (18c), and terrorize (19c). Apart from the spelling question, there is a widespread belief that there are too many new verbs of this kind. Objections have been raised to finalize and prioritize and (with more reason) hospitalize and permanentize. Forms not attested before 1950 include, in addition to those given in the table below, a whole lot of forms beginning with re- including resensitize and retribalize, and noun derivatives such as institutionalization and privatization. However, these words represent a small proportion of new words and meanings in English, even among verbs, and it is significant that fewer than ten words in -ization or -ize are entered in each of the two editions (1991 and 1997) of the Oxford Dictionary of New Words, out of a vocabulary total of 2000 items in each. There are many opportunities for ad hoc or nonce formations, and some examples are given in the table. All have their uses on occasions and will come and go as needed without becoming part of the permanent stock of language. Words in -ize, -ization, or -izer recorded after 1950. Nonce and ad hoc forms are marked with an asterisk
word / comment or source
annualize
capsulize
computerize
condomize* / Newsweek, 1987
containerize
decontextualize
denuclearize
disasterize*
funeralize* / recorded as obsolete in the 17c and now revived
incentivize
invisibleize* / Iris Murdoch, 1991
liquidizer / a machine
marketization*
modularize
operationalize
packetize
peripheralization*
privatize
psychedelicize* / 2 citations in the OED
rehospitalization*
remobilize
ruggedize / ‘to make rugged’
securitize / ‘to convert (a loan) into marketable securities’
technologize
texturize
transistorize / common in the 50s and 60s
trivializer / a person
weaponization*
3. verdict.
English has always been highly productive in forming new verbs to represent actions and processes related to social and material developments. Many of these have used suffixes such as -ize and -ify. Some of the 20c newcomers will drop by the wayside; others will survive through the 21c and beyond, despite the occasional creasing of brows. Together they provide significant linguistic insights into social change.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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