Is there an appropriate way to shorten the phrase "upgrade and downgrade"?

I am writing a paper and have to use this combination frequently. I am trying to find a succinct way to let the reader know I'm referring to both upgrades and downgrades without making them read the phrase over and over again.

I was thinking something like up-/down-grade, but if that is the case, I'm not sure what the appropriate punctuation would be.

Edit: Forgot to add that this is for a scientific paper so meaning and brevity take precedent over style.

Here is a sample sentence:

An up/downgrade refers to an objective comparison of the consumer’s currently owned product and its potential replacement.

  • Comp Sci, or some other subject? Things like "different versions", "changing versions" "reverting" "across implementations" etc. can help reduce repitition problems. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 22:10
  • Its actually for a paper on consumer choice so the Comp Sci terms don't necessarily help much
    – Bradley
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 22:12
  • 1
    Can you include a sample sentence in your question?
    – BlueWhale
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 22:15
  • If style is not a necessity but brevity and accuracy is, what about: "An up or downgrade" and perhaps in other sentences: "either up or downgrading"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 10:47

5 Answers 5


Why not use the term that is used in the educational community - grade change?

  • I don't think that's the most appropriate. I'm thinking more in terms of upgrading a car's fuel efficiency, or downgrading the size of a television
    – Bradley
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 23:00
  • @Bradley The problem with that example is that one is viewed almost universally as an improvement (fuel efficiency) but the other is merely an alternative based on convenience or fit (screen size). Do you want a qualitative or quantitative change reflected?
    – bib
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 23:30
  • I tend to disagree. They are both quantitative differences in compared to some reference object. I'll share a deeper discussion of my view when I finish my paper if you're interested. Either way, I'm not sure how your question impacts the choice of syntax. Is there some rule or convention that I'm not aware of which impacts the correct answer?
    – Bradley
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 1:35
  • 2
    @Bradley While these changes can be viewed as quantitative, they have a significant qualitative aspect, up usually being thought of as better and down as worse (especially in connection with grade). You could arguably refer to a comparison of cars that use less gas by observing that he upgraded to a car that used only 100 gallons per year rather than 200 gallons. Quantity down, quality up.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 1:45

I'm not aware of any legitimate variety of English in which the statement “An upgrade or downgrade refers to an objective comparison of the consumer’s currently owned product and its potential replacement” is true or valid. I grant there may be coteries that by misadventure have adopted such usage, when what they mean to say is that an assessment, appraisal, or reassessment is such a comparison.

If the aim of the statement is to define a grade-involving term that stands for the kind of comparison mentioned, consider using regrade, meaning “To grade again, give a new grade or grading to” or “To regroup or reassign” for that term. For example: “To regrade refers to objectively comparing the consumer’s currently owned product and a suggested replacement”.


In the context of products, the terms upgrade and downgrade (no hyphen, up and down no longer prefixes here, the two "words" are recognized and defined as such) have specific meanings.


Upgrading is the process of replacing a product with a newer version of the same product. In computing and consumer electronics an upgrade is generally a replacement of hardware, software or firmware with a newer or better version, in order to bring the system up to date or to improve its characteristics. (WP)


raise (something) to a higher standard, in particular improve (equipment or machinery) by adding or replacing components:
the cost of upgrading each workstation is around $300 (ODO)


reduce to a lower grade, rank, or level of importance:
some jobs had gradually been downgraded from skilled to semiskilled (ibid)

Note that downgrade is rarely used in the context of products.

The term "downgrade" became especially popularized during the days of Windows Vista, with users wanting to return to, or downgrade to (with some even calling it an "upgrade") Windows XP due to Vista's performance and familiarity issues. (WP:downgrade)


… hardware components may not be compatible after either an upgrade or downgrade, due to the non-availability of compatible drivers for the hardware … [emphasis mine] (WP)

The usual way to refer to upgrade/downgrade is to use the unambiguous phrase upgrade or downgrade as Wikipedia does above.

And, no, it's not rightgrade.


In some contexts 'migrate' may be quite good single word (though little wider). We can also introduce new(?) word for that specifically - 'migrade' if everyone agrees :).


For software, one may use the word "deploy" or "install". It is a bit unusual to use them together because "upgrade" is a normal process whereas "downgrade" is quite an exceptional one.

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