1797, "to cause (a state, etc.) to undergo a (political) revolution, effect a change in the political constitution of;" see revolution + -ize. Transferred sense of "change a thing completely and fundamentally, effect radical change in" is by 1799. Related: Revolutionized; revolutionizing.
Entries linking to revolutionize
late 14c., revolucioun, originally of celestial bodies, "one (apparent) rotation about the earth," also the time required for this, also "act or fact of moving in a circular course," from Old French revolucion "course, revolution" of celestial bodies (13c.) or directly from Late Latin revolutionem (nominative revolutio) "a revolving," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin revolvere "turn, roll back" (see revolve).
From early 15c. as "a cyclical reoccurrence, a round or recurrent changes or events;" also "the revolving of a wheel." By 1660s as "action on the part of an object or person of turning round or moving round a point."
The sense of "an instance of great change in affairs" is recorded from mid-15c. The political meaning "overthrow of an established political or social system" is recorded by c. 1600, derived from French, and was especially applied in England to the expulsion of the Stuart dynasty under James II in 1688 and transfer of sovereignty to William and Mary under a purer constitutional government. Green revolution in global food production is attested from 1970.
word-forming element used to make verbs, Middle English -isen, from Old French -iser/-izer, from Late Latin -izare, from Greek -izein, a verb-forming element denoting the doing of the noun or adjective to which it is attached.
The variation of -ize and -ise began in Old French and Middle English, perhaps aided by a few words (such as surprise, see below) where the ending is French or Latin, not Greek. With the classical revival, English partially reverted to the correct Greek -z- spelling from late 16c. But the 1694 edition of the authoritative French Academy dictionary standardized the spellings as -s-, which influenced English.
In Britain, despite the opposition to it (at least formerly) of OED, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Times of London, and Fowler, -ise remains dominant. Fowler thinks this is to avoid the difficulty of remembering the short list of common words not from Greek which must be spelled with an -s- (such as advertise, devise, surprise). American English has always favored -ize. The spelling variation involves about 200 English verbs.
updated on August 08, 2021
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