The Name Inspector has been thinkifying about naming fads lately. For example, there was that post a while back about names ending with the word vine. One trend that naggifies at him every day, though, is the gratuitous use of the suffix -ify. This one is bound to worsify before it gets bett…OK, he’s done with the stupid sarcastic examples now. You’ve seen these names all over the place, right? Here’s a little list:

Adify

Crowdify

Mobify

Navify

Optify

Shopify

Spotify

Storify

Topify

There are lots of English verbs that end with the Latin-derived suffix -ify. In most of them, the main part of the word, or the base, is an adjective. Usually the resulting word means ‘to make (adjective)’–so intensify means to make something intense, purify means to make something pure, and so forth. In some of these words, the base is a noun, and the meaning is roughly ‘to make into (noun)’–so personify means to make something into a person (at least imaginatively), mummify means to make someone into a mummy, and zombify means to make someone into a zombie. Sometimes the meanings are a little more complicated. Yuppify doesn’t mean to make someone into a yuppy, but rather to make something (usually a neighborhood) more full of yuppies or more appealing to them. (For you youngsters out there, yuppie is a word, short for “young urban professional”, that we oldsters used derisively back in the 1980s when we were secretly aspiring to be yuppies ourselves). Sometimes the base of an -ify word is a twist on an existing word, as in clarify, horrify, and terrify, or it’s a Latin root that doesn’t stand on its own as a word but that’s related to familiar words, as in verify, rectify, and unify.

Despite these complications, one thing you can say about all these words is that the bases are simple and usually don’t carry any other suffixes before the -ify ending. Names using the suffix are another story:

Playlistify

Backupify

Linksify

Zensify

Here we have the -ify ending attached to the compound noun playlist, the nounified verb-particle combination backup, the plural noun links, and, inexplicably, a base made out of zen + s (maybe this is supposed to be a blend of zen and densify). Then we even have the -ify ending redundantly added to verb bases:

Chargify

Predictify

Restorify

You don’t find -ify attached to verbs in natural English, because the point of the -ify ending is to make a verb out of a different kind of word. The only exception The Name Inspector has thought of is preachify, and he’s willing to wager that’s a tongue-in-cheek word, based on the similar word speechify, that’s meant to illustrate the kind artificially puffed-up speaking style it refers to.

The Name Inspector fears that this approach to namifying has gotten out of hand. When will the madness stopify?

Update 7/2/13: A while back The Name Inspector created a Pinterest board called the Wall of Namifying, where you can see 80+ examples of the namifying trend.

8 Responses to “A disturbifying trend in namifying”

  1. on 10 Feb 2011 at 4:56 pm Fritinancy

    I wonder how many -ifys were inspirified in one way or another by Abilify, the antidepressant/bipolar-disorder drug approvified by the FDA in 2009.

    By the way, I’ve been keepifying my own list. In addition to your examples, I have Appify (an app store), Brickify (which turns images into Lego statues), Connectify (“turn your Windows 7 laptop into a WiFi hotspot”), Financify (which I would love if it were spelled Financyfy), Jabbify (a chat client), Scholify (“create group study space”), and Yotify (?! – unclear what it does).

  2. on 15 Feb 2011 at 5:31 am Prettify Design

    Oh well, guess I fell for that one.

  3. on 15 Feb 2011 at 10:37 am The Name Inspector

    Hi Fritinancy. Thanks for adding those great examples!

    Prettify, you get a pass because “prettify” is a real word. I, in fact, have had the domain name linguify.com registered for several years and don’t intend to give it up!

  4. on 16 Feb 2011 at 7:51 am Vincent Wright

    (I just tweeted: “Though we mix prefixes and affixes and suffixes, sometimes, words are invented not just for derivative meaning but, for feeling.”)

    While I don’t like most of the names ending in “ify” and irrespective of the evident dangers of this trend, I like “yuppify” because of the feeling it engenders.

    While the feeling may be limited just to me, an audience of one, I believe it gets to the heart of what branding is about: causing a feeling (not just an analysis)

  5. on 20 Feb 2011 at 9:20 pm Kelsey

    As a 5th grader in 1998 I attended an outdoor education program for a week. We had the sacred ritual of “happify” at every mess hall. One person would wiggle their fingers above their head, building up an intense ball of happification. Then they would “throw” the ball to a recipient, who had therefore just been happified, and repeat the process to someone else.

    Happify defines a part of my childhood. I hadn’t paid particular attention to its naming popularity. Perhaps it was my generation that became infatuated with the “just add -ify” rule and spread it!

  6. on 13 Jul 2011 at 2:11 pm mike

    You can add “drinkify” and “snackify” to the list, courtesy of PepsiCo:

    http://evolvingenglish.blogspot.com/2011/07/pepsico-and-future-of-snacks.html

    Tho those are not (at least, not yet) brand names. Just, you know, verbs.

  7. on 29 Jan 2012 at 2:04 pm Mike T.

    You forgot gamify, as in verb form of gamification.

  8. on 09 Mar 2012 at 5:00 pm Ken Head

    These words are almost certainly settled upon due to the dirth of available short URL’s and therefore pretty much get a blanket pass in my book.

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