Many of my colleagues use the word realize in the sense of implement (as in "software realization" or "I didn't realize this function") It looks like these are false friends in both French and German. However, the use is so widespread that I'm having doubts whether it's legitimate. A few examples:

CAN Specification, page 1:

These applications can be realized with CAN more comfortably [...]

Autosar OS specification, page 121:

The RTE realizes the service on client side by mapping the client/server call to a sender/receiver communication.

Renesas RL78 User's manual, page 269:

Channel 7 of unit 0 can be used to realize LIN-bus communication operating in combination with UART2 [...]

  • Seems like a legitimate use according to Merriam-Webster
    – Tarok
    Apr 26 '16 at 9:19
  • 1
    Yes, but this doesn't mean that the two words are always acceptably interchangeable. 'Achieve', 'facilitate' etc might sound more natural, and 'I didn't realize this function' sounds garden-pathy if not ambiguous to a layman. Does it mean 'I didn't use this function' or 'I didn't manage to make use of this function'? Apr 26 '16 at 10:01
  • @EdwinAshworth It is supposed to mean "I didn't implement/create/develop this function". Apr 26 '16 at 10:09
  • @Tarok I thought using to realize in sense of "to bring into concrete existence" only applied to goals, dreams etc. Can I really say that I have realized a strawberry cake last evening? I have certainly brought that cake into existence, didn't I? Apr 26 '16 at 10:15
  • You see the problem: 'realize' has a lot of senses. ELU is a general English usage website, so answers here will validly cover general usage. Registers such as that/those used by computer engineers (!) are really a separate issue; I'd suggest consulting a dedicated dictionary or glossary. A classic case of confusion is what people mean by a 'hurricane'; metereologists insist on a stricter definition than many laypersons use. Apr 26 '16 at 10:16

Understand that "realize" is being used (and perhaps slightly misused), in the above sense, to differentiate from "conceptualize". When you take a concept and make it "real" you have "realized" it.

In this sense it's probably best applied to simple algorithms and the like -- you would not say that a giant skyscraper is the realization of its blueprints.

  • Please cite sources, 'Hot Licks'. If a rule applies to one it applies to everyone or it's not really a rule at all, is it? May 1 '16 at 14:46

Yes, it is possible to use 'realise' in the meaning of 'create/implement', but 'implement' is most suitable, because in contemporary English word 'realise' is a synonim to 'understand'.

  • That's pretty much the way I use realize most often. Only I would say it's a synonym with to become aware, as in "I realized I lost my keys" Apr 26 '16 at 13:25

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