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Merriam-Webster defines "systemize" as an alternate spelling of "systematize." Is there any reason to choose one over the the other (besides "systematize" sounding a little weird to my ears)?

I did notice that the spell checker in my browser is marking "systemize" as incorrect, though Word says it's fine (U.S. English).

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4 Answers

up vote -1 down vote accepted

I think "systemize" is uncommon enough to lead you to prefer "systematize" — and "just sounds weird" is often a good enough reason all by itself.

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In truth, both versions sound a little weird to me. Perhaps that's reason enough to go with some form of "X makes Y systematic" instead. –  Greg Haskins Mar 28 '11 at 14:27
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It'll be a matter of personal taste. To me, "systemize" sounds weird :-) –  user1579 Mar 28 '11 at 15:16
    
I think both have an air of "management-speak" buzzwords anyway. I'd rather see organise, categorise, classify, etc. in most contexts. –  FumbleFingers Mar 28 '11 at 17:05
    
There's also the medical usage of systemize, the aspect of something with respect to the whole (human) body (i.e., 'system'). cf. 'systemic'. –  Kris Feb 2 at 15:02
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The word "system" is derived from Greek. In declension of some Greek words the word stem is longer than the simplest form; in this case the simplest form is "systema", but the stem is "systemat-". Analogously, thema and schema are declensed "themat-" and "schemat", respectively. In derivations the stem is usually used, e.g. systematic, schematic.

In my ears then, "systemize" sounds as weird as "themize" or "schemize" would. That is, they sound as if something is lacking. But this is probably only the case with those that were tought the classical languages in school.

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"Systemize" sounds weird to me, despite my ignorance of Greek. I think the reason it sounds weird might be that I don't think I've ever heard or read it before, whereas I've certainly read "systematize". –  Andreas Blass Feb 3 at 0:48
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The NOAD reports systemize is "another term for systematize." That is all the description given by the NOAD; I guess that means systemize is not so often used.

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systematize gets about 4 times as many hits on Google –  snumpy Mar 28 '11 at 14:37
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I am not sure how the lexicologists would argue about it but I see systematize as 'making something systematic' and systemize as creating a system from something. They are certainly not the same thing.

The OED defines systematize as:

arrange according to an organized system; make systematic

implying that an existing system is followed in arranging something.

In contrast, the TFD quotes the AHD thus:

To formulate into or reduce to a system

Usage examples:
Progress in Brain Research (Elsevier) p.170

Systemizing is the drive to analyze or construct systems. These might be any kind of system(s). What defines a system is that it follows rules, and when we systemize we are trying to identify the rules that govern the system, in order to predict how that system will behave (Baron-Cohen, 2006). [emphasis mine]

Fuchs, et al., (Ed.), Internet and Surveillance p.139

The overall aim of this chapter was to clarify how we theorize and systemize Internet surveillance in the modern economy. The chapter constructed theoretically founded typologies in order to systemize the existing literature of Internet surveillance studies and to analyze examples of surveillance.

I could be wrong, though.

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