I'd like to describe the activity of turning a set of elements into its canonical (standardized base) form.

Some candidates seem to be:

  • canonicalize
  • canonize

I'd also like to name the device performing this action, candidates so far:

  • canonicalizer
  • canonizer

None of these look quite right, what's the right term?


2 Answers 2


I always use canonize myself, because it’s short to type and accords with canon law.

You could also use normalize or standardize, both of which are preferable to the wholly asquerous regularize, a sad and overburdened word brought to you by the unregulated coiners.

Probably beatify isn’t going far enough, though. :)

The thing that does it is a normalizer, if you don’t care for canonizer or pope.

  • 4
    I think “canonicalization” is probably more of a highly specialised term that doesn't overlap in meaning with "canonize". Feb 18, 2012 at 16:49
  • 3
    "Canonize" has too much religious association ('declare someone a saint').
    – Mitch
    Feb 18, 2012 at 16:58
  • @Mitch I know it has a lot of religious association, but better than than neologuing uselessly hyperoverextended words terminating in a clattering cavalcade of multiple derivationalistic suffixes. You just can’t take these things too seriously. People use ‘bless’ in a corporate sense without worrying about their local priest.
    – tchrist
    Feb 18, 2012 at 17:04
  • What does "asquerous" mean? Feb 18, 2012 at 23:22
  • 1
    So I'm going to go with 'canonize', working from the root word, despite the computing use here...mostly because I feel like taking a stand and partially because uttering 'canonicalizer' is atrocious. Feb 21, 2012 at 2:27

In computing contexts, the standard verb is definitely canonicalize. Its agent noun is canonicalizer, though that's not as common as the verb itself.

Hence, from assorted RFCs and W3C technical reports:

To canonicalize an element including its namespaces, attributes, and content, the node-set must actually contain all of the nodes corresponding to these parts of the document, not just the element node. [link]

The "include" and "exclude" SigData fields modify the default behavior of the label canonicalizer. [link]

On first glance it would seem a simple enough exercise to canonicalize the XML encoded query and then insert it into the query portion of the URL. [link]

Any XML document, say X, processed by a canonicalizer, will produce an XML Document X'. [link]

However, designers of applications, protocols, or specifications are encouraged to use the information from the IANA Language Subtag Registry to support canonicalizing language tags and ranges in order to map grandfathered and obsolete tags or subtags into modern equivalents. [link]

(And, you didn't ask for this, but the action noun is canonicalization.)

  • I think you’ll find canon-ic-al-iz-at-ion to be one of those overly academic words that collapses under its own weight: the poor thing has five derivational suffixes smacked onto its sorry end. One is ok; two are tolerable if necessary; but five is beyond the pale. It sounds stuffy and pretentious. A native speaker would use a shorter and more convenient word. And yes, I’m a professional computer scientist, so I happen to know whereof I speak on this. It collapses under a clattering cavalcade of catenated coprocessizationalizing fooishnessesesses.
    – tchrist
    Feb 19, 2012 at 0:03
  • 1
    @tchrist: Of course you know whereof you speak, since you speak only of your own opinion. (Everybody's got one.) As a native English speaker and a professional programmer, I'm not inclined to be cowed by your stated credentials, sorry. And your count of derivational affixes is somewhat debatable, since -ical and -ation are functioning here as single units. But your opinion is perfectly valid, and I don't intend to denigrate it. I even half-agree with it. But only half. ;-)
    – ruakh
    Feb 19, 2012 at 0:31
  • The reason -ical and -ation count as two each is because of minimal pairs like historic/historical and hyphenate/hyphenation.
    – tchrist
    Feb 19, 2012 at 0:48
  • For the verb I'm using canonicalizes.
    – Zamicol
    Sep 15, 2021 at 18:01

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