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I'm attempting to document a change that will make two things more congruent. I'd like to use a word in this way:

This change [makes similar] the two items.

The best I've been able to find by searching is "assimilate"; however, I feel that this word has unpleasant connotations in some cases and could be misconstrued. Is there a better word?

For a little more context on this specific situation: I'm making the interfaces of two different software libraries more similar. They're remaining separate libraries, but they do nearly the same thing and are now more similar in their behavior.

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3  
reconcile –  Peter Shor Jul 25 at 18:17
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aligns or calibrates? –  WAF Jul 25 at 18:20
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@Nick: A man and a woman can be unified/united in marriage, but they still exist autonomously. –  FumbleFingers Jul 25 at 18:56
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@FumbleFingers Agreed. To reconcile is not to change one thing to be like the other but rather to find the points that make them compatible. I don't think unify quite fits either, to me unify means to bring together into one whole, rather than to make two separate entities congruent. I like 'conform' as was suggested below. –  Dave Magner Jul 25 at 18:59
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There are many good suggestions here but it would help to know more about the specific context in which the OP is looking to use the term in order to pick the most appropriate answer. –  pimlottc Jul 26 at 3:29

10 Answers 10

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Normalize may be what you want.  The Free Dictionary defines it as:

  1. To make normal, especially to cause to conform to a standard or norm
  2. To make (a text or language) regular and consistent

(excerpted; emphasis added).  This can be used to refer to preparing things for comparison.  For example, if I know the weight of one thing in pounds and another thing in kilograms, I will convert one of them to the units of the other.

Homogenize means “to make uniform or similar”, or

  1. To make homogeneous.
    • To make uniform in consistency, …

Align is good, too, but I see somebody else posted that already.

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+1 for homogenize –  Lumberjack Jul 25 at 20:07
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Just to note: 'normalize' has a relatively strong meaning in mathematical logic and computer science (very similar to the example of using the same units; cf. 'normal form'). The OP is a bit too vague to tell whether this is what they mean, though. –  Rhymoid Jul 25 at 20:18
    
@Rhymoid I concur. My exposure with the term comes from the Computer Science side of the house. Specifically, I am familiar with normalization in the context of database design, and table structure. –  Lumberjack Jul 25 at 20:25
    
Normalization often refers to conforming something to an external standard ("normal form"), not changing two or more things in relation to one another. –  pimlottc Jul 26 at 3:23
    
@pimlottc: The question isn’t about changing two or more things in relation to one another. The question says, “I'm attempting to document a change that will make two things more congruent.” ISTM that this could include changing one thing to conform to a standard that another already conforms to (as with my example; converting the weight in pounds to the metric system) or, arguably, making two things conform to a common standard. –  Scott Jul 26 at 3:34

Perhaps these definitions of conform from Collins fit your needs

  1. to make the same or similar: to conform one's idea to another's
  2. to bring into harmony or agreement; adapt (often used reflexively)

It is often used to describe making two documents read or mean the same thing.

He conformed the instruction sheet to the new specifications received from the manufacturer.

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It's the correct answer. The fact that the intransitive usages of 'conform' are so prevalent shouldn't prevent it being accepted (but may). –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 25 at 19:11

Consider going with synchronize, with the definition:

tally; agree. "their version failed to synchronize with the police view"

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Harmonizes might be best, as it has a good connotation. Coordinates might also work, depending on what these "two items" are.

harmonize

: to cause (two or more things) to be combined or to go together in a pleasing or effective way

Merriam-Webster entry for harmonize

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This works particularly well for things like rules, regulations etc. –  Steve Bennett Jul 27 at 12:23

If you are combining partial information from both items and/or removing inconsistencies between them, I would suggest reconciling.

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As I said, the question isn’t about changing two or more things in relation to one another. –  Scott Jul 26 at 20:46

Since no-one else has mentioned it, standardise seems like quite a good fit.

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This answer would be improved if you provided a definition and an explanation of why you think this word fits the context. –  KitFox Jul 28 at 20:48
    
Feel free to edit it! –  user3490 Jul 28 at 21:28
    
I would, but I don't know why you think this word is a good fit. –  KitFox Jul 28 at 21:31

Likens gets the point across that the adjustment makes it like the other, but I personally feel the word comes off strange in a sentence. Maybe it's just me =(.

Mirror seems like it would work if you want to emphasize that the two objects are going to be matching completely.

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I agree that likens does not fit. I also dispute mirror. One item can mirror another – as a trivial example, body parts (my left eye mirrors my right eye, etc.) You could build two houses that mirror each other; you can remodel one house so that it mirrors the other. But you wouldn’t say, “The remodeling effort mirrors the houses.” –  Scott Jul 26 at 1:31

The best word I can think of is assimilates (plus it even looks like similar). Or to sound fancier, try approximates.

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Assimilate was already mentioned in the question; there’s no real need to have it in the answer here, too. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 25 at 19:40
    
“assimilate” does not mean “make similar” at all, except under very unusual circumstances. –  Lubin Jul 27 at 2:58
    
This answer would be improved if you provided a definition and an explanation of why you think this word fits the context. –  KitFox Jul 28 at 20:48

Depending on how the two elements are being combined, consolidates might be the word, or amalgamates might fit, or standardizes might work. As others have noted, an example would really help.

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"to make similar to" <==> "to copy"

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While this is a valid interpretation, it would make the answer better if you acknowledge that this is only one possible interpretation and give an example use. –  Matt Эллен Jul 26 at 9:24
    
This answer would be improved if you provided a definition and an explanation of why you think this word fits the context. –  KitFox Jul 28 at 20:48

protected by Matt Эллен Jul 26 at 9:24

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