In conversation, when someone says they appreciate my brain, I need an effective comeback. I was going to say:

"I hope that you are not turning into a zombie with your love for my brain."

But I feel that "turning into" is not a sufficiently vivid verb to use.

What verb should I use when someone turns into (or possibly might turn into) a zombie?

I want the verb to tell a bit of the story by describing the what and why of zombies.

  • 1
    It's not much more vivid than your original wording, but you could try becoming: I hope you're not becoming a zombie. If something more dramatic is a must: I hope you're not morphing into a zombie. – J.R. Nov 7 '13 at 15:16
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    morphing has a more arty and comic aspect to it I feel. Or maybe I am just tainted by the Tony Hart art series. – NamSandStorm Nov 7 '13 at 15:20
  • Good ideas. I would upvote morphing. "Becoming" is kind of bland, like "turning into" for me. – Matthew Rodatus Nov 7 '13 at 15:23
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    Answer: You should use an Inchoative /ɪn'koətɪv/ predicate. All the predicates in all the answers below are inchoative, in that they refer to a change of state, which is often the beginning or ending of some action, event, or process. For pure change, come to be (source of become and still grammatical) is the idiom. For modulated change, morph (into) has a modern ring. – John Lawler Nov 7 '13 at 19:50
  • 2
    "RUN!" would do nicely. – JeffSahol Nov 7 '13 at 21:37

12 Answers 12


OED has a first citation from NY Times, 1950 for...

zombify: to transform into a zombie.

...so I don't see why in OP's context he shouldn't say...

"I hope that you're not being/becoming zombified by your love of my brain."

  • 1
    My coworker suggested zombify, but I didn't find it a believable phrase. The OED's citation convinces me. – Matthew Rodatus Nov 7 '13 at 15:57
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    @Matthew: Well, Google Books says it has over 8000 written instances of "zombified", and I personally would say something is "a word" if many people use it, expecting to be understood, rather than if it's in a dictionary. But in this case both approaches agree, so you don't have to specifically side with either dictionaries or usage. – FumbleFingers Nov 7 '13 at 16:04
  • I agree that something is a word if many people use it, expecting to be understood. – Matthew Rodatus Nov 7 '13 at 16:22
  • So is it the expectation of being understood that’s crucial here, or is it the understanding itself? – tchrist Nov 8 '13 at 1:39
  • @tchrist: As any fule kno, only a fool would underestimate the predictability of stupidity. But I'd have to say that piously hoping all native speakers will understand all your possible utterances would be mega-foolish. Realistically, the expectation of being understood is far more vital to communication than the actuality in any specific circumstance - and if the other person isn't likely to even know your word, it's often pretty pointless using it (unless you're a teacher, of course! :) – FumbleFingers Nov 8 '13 at 2:53

"Mutate" seems appropriate to me.


How about transmogrify?

to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect

  • I remember when I was young I thought the word transmogrify was made up by Bill Watterson! – Andy May 10 at 22:47

I don't think there is anything wrong with saying turn, in this context. See http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/turn_4 , which has the following definition of the word: to (cause to) become, change into, or come to be something. It's good enough for zombie films and television programmes, where characters talk of other people who have turned, meaning that they became a zombie.

  • Thank you, Tristan. Your use of "turned" with that background helps me. – Matthew Rodatus Nov 7 '13 at 15:32
  • Tristan, I still like your answer, but I still feel like "turned" is not vivid enough. I prefer "mutate" because of its connections to nuclear radiation, which I believe is where zombies came from. – Matthew Rodatus Nov 7 '13 at 18:03
  • My original question has "vivid" as the main criteria for what I am looking for. – Matthew Rodatus Nov 7 '13 at 18:04
  • Matthew, this question is an example of something that exists in language use, which is that in many situations, it is possible to have more than one way of saying or writing something, without changing the meaning. In such situations, it does not always matter which way is chosen. – Tristan Nov 7 '13 at 21:41
  • Matthew, where zombies come from varies in fiction. Different stories have different explanations for them. Regarding the word turn, I remember it being used in the zombie programme called The Walking Dead. – Tristan Nov 7 '13 at 21:55

A few words come to mind:

  • transform
  • convert
  • evolve
  • devolve
  • grow
  • mature
  • adapt
  • Someone who matures or evolves into a zombie isn't starting from a very good place -- those words generally connote a positive change. Devolves would be a better choice to describe most people undergoing zombification, although there are certainly exceptions. – Caleb Nov 8 '13 at 15:57

'Mutated' as suggested by Wesley Wiser would be my first choice, but 'Morphed' could also work.

  • Morphed - undergo or cause to undergo a gradual process of transformation.

"He morphed into a Zombie."

  • I've only just seen the comments at the top, but I'm leaving it up as another option. – Dom Nov 7 '13 at 21:34
  • I always understood morph as specifically referring to a change in shape. Since a zombie is (roughly) the same shape as a human, I wouldn't think morph would fit here. – Nate Eldredge Nov 16 '13 at 16:37

Morphing had already been mentioned, but one can also try to metamorphose into zombie (just the same as larva metamorphose into butterflies).

Freedictionary had got a suitable usage example: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/metamorphose


A more vivid verb that describes the what and why of zombies. Ambitious!

O.K. How about transmute? That hasn't been suggested by anyone yet.

Looking into the history of transmutation, I discovered that the word was used in the 19th century several years before the advent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution: On The Origin of Species in 1859. Previously to that, it had been adopted by alchemists to describe the transformation of ordinary metal into gold. The promoter of the transmutation theory, the Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and author of Philosophie Zoologique (1809) claimed...

that simple forms of life were created continuously by spontaneous generation. He also believed that an innate life force, which he sometimes described as a nervous fluid, drove species to become more complex over time, advancing up a linear ladder of complexity that was related to the great chain of being.

Online Etymology has this to say

(v.) early 15c., from Latin transmutare, "change from one condition to another,"from trans-"thoroughly" + mutare "to change" Related: Transmuted; transmuting


I would use 'descending'. 'I hope you are not descending into a zombie'.


Why, when you tell me, "I love you for your brain." Do I only feel fear? Fear, like, seriously? Have you undergone zombification[1]?

[1] http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2012/10/zombies-voodoo-and-pufferfish.html



'I hope your are not zombieing' <= to zombie, inchoat, to become a zombie

To me zombify is a causative, appropriate when you cause someone else to become a zombie.

source: urbandictionary.com


Undergoing zombification is quite popular, however some prefer the slightly higher-browed term zombifaction.

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