We use anthropomorphize to describe when human qualities have been ascribed to non-human creatures, objects, etc.

What is a word to that captures the situation when seemingly divine (or godlike) qualities have been ascribed to machines or software?

Usage: Many of the responses to the chess match between Google's AlphaZero and Stockfish - or more precisely, the responses to some of the moves played by the former in said match - seem to be delivered in a register that _____ AlphaZero. For example, Nigel Short wrote: "On seeing the engine's games, I feel like I am in the presence of God."

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    Deus in machinam? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 9 '18 at 15:49
  • Yes, that also works very well in the same context. – Lisbeth Dec 11 '18 at 2:13

There is a rare word "theomorphise"/"theomorphize" which according to the OED means:

theoˈmorphize v. (transitive) to form in the image of God.

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    This is better than deify. To deify is to actually look to something as godlike, to theomorphize is to regard someone's interaction with something else as being close to worship. Would +2 if I could. – Stian Yttervik Dec 9 '18 at 21:46
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    I don't see how the OED's definition of theomorphize fits the OP's context. The OP wasn't talking about someone forming AlphaZero in the image of God, but rather someone talking about AlphaZero with a level of reverence and awe akin to worship. Maybe theomorphize can also mean something more analogous to anthropomorphize, but that meaning isn't what the quoted definition shows. – LarsH Dec 11 '18 at 2:32

Deify, as defined by Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th edition, fits the example given. It can mean any of the following:

1: a: to make a god of
b: to take as an object of worship
2: to glorify as of supreme worth

  • The definitions here seem to fit the OP's meaning and context better than that of theomorphize. – LarsH Dec 11 '18 at 17:37

The word that came to my mind was apotheosis, The fact or action of becoming or making into a god (Wiktionary). But this is a noun, not a verb. Wiktionary does, however, also give the rarer word apotheosize, which fits your sentence well.


Try divinise. (Or divinize, in the US.) It means precisely to ascribe divine qualities.

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