I am looking for a verb for to make more concrete. Initially, I chose to practialize but it is not an English term according to ispell. Please, come up with verbs of the same meaning.


The situation where I want to use this is in philosophy. The sentence is like this

XYZ philosophical ideas are meant to make THX issues more practical over long-term but solving the practical problems requires in the first step critical understanding of present state through certain philosophical machinery.

The reason I want to avoid the term practical is that it has a bit of a diverted meaning in this context — the goal is to make abstract ideas to help other people, not necessarily physical things but to transform technical issues into practical.

Even the term practical is a bit diverted here. I am writing a synopsis about a very long philosophical article where the author redefines or moulds the original meaning of practice into reasoning, judging and perception.

Clearly I want to avoid this term because it means something altogether different to normal. I need to find another way to describe the original author's desire for to make things more practical, not by repetitively using practical, but some variety to this process with words having different connotations and background.

Initially, I thought that I would favor scientific terms such as precipitate from Chemistry because of the technical background in my course but I am now unsure, it may make the text too hard to read.

  • 2
    Why not use "make more concrete"? Feb 21, 2012 at 12:38
  • @JasperLoy: 'to make more practical', I need to find a term to make theoretical/etc things more practical or even physical i.e. to materialize/recipitate -- now I need terms to describe this practicalization deeper. I am looking for verbs.
    – hhh
    Feb 21, 2012 at 12:41
  • 1
    @dowvoter: leave some reason please.
    – hhh
    Feb 21, 2012 at 12:43
  • 5
    Solidify? Develop? Consolidate? Streamline? Condense? Concentrate? Clarify? You might wish to start by doing the latter.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 21, 2012 at 12:55
  • 4
    Here are some suggestions: 'concretize', 'realize', 'reify' (a lot of technical meaning in philosophy), 'specify', 'instantiate'. Are those in the direction you're looking for?
    – Mitch
    Feb 21, 2012 at 13:13

8 Answers 8


I think that the phrase make more concrete is perfectly acceptable. You shouldn't worry too much about repetition if the word or phrase is correct in the context.

But since you're looking for more options:

  • Crystallise - make free from confusion or ambiguity; make clear; — The Free Dictionary

  • Make (more) tangible where tangible means able to be touched.
  • Elucidate - to make clear or plain, especially by explanation; clarify. — The Free Dictionary

  • Materialise - come into being; become reality. — The Free Dictionary


Also consider reify, "to regard something abstract as if it were a concrete material thing", with synonyms conceptualize, concretize, objectify, picture. Related term reification means "consideration of an abstract thing as if it were concrete, or of an inanimate object as if it were living". From these definitions one sees that reify and reification refer not to making something concrete, but instead to regarding it as if it were, which in your philosophical context may be suitable.

Edit 1. I wrote "consider reify" above, rather than "use reify", due to not finding meaning in the example sentence, hence not knowing what part of speech to suggest. The comment "Objectify fits nicely" suggests to me that objective [which is analogous to pragmatic, from another answer] may be relevant. Perhaps the example means something along the lines of

Applying X philosophical ideas to reify Y issues makes these issues subject to objective scrutiny, but also requires philosophical machinery Z to do A to B.

Edit 2. From etymonline, reify has a Latin stem, re, with English suffix -ify attached; if you require pure English, substitute thingify for reify. The etymology of reification makes more interesting reading. From etymonline and wiktionary, respectively, we have:

1846, "act of materializing," from L. re-, stem of res "thing" + -fication. In Marxist jargon, translating Ger. Verdinglichung.

c. 1846 Macaronic calque translation of German Verdinglichung, using -ification (“making”) for ver- + Latin res (“thing”) for Dinglichung (“thingliness”)


The usual direction is to abstract, theorize, or generalize. You want to go back from those abstractions to something more concrete and tangible. I suggest:

  • concretize (to make more concrete)
  • reify (to make more 'real')
  • realize (similar etymology to 'reify' but less formal. more about an 'awakening' in one's own thoughts)
  • specify (to give specifics)
  • instantiate (to set some variables)
  • Reify is not my favorite word. :(
    – tchrist
    Feb 21, 2012 at 18:32
  • I agree it's not the best and would not be my first choice, but it does fit.
    – Mitch
    Feb 21, 2012 at 18:58

I think OP is making a rod for his own back by focussing on the metaphorical use of concrete (and all associated words making the distinction between abstract concepts and "solid" physical reality).

The issue in hand is primarily the contrast between theoretical and practical - but as stated, OP doesn't want to use the obvious word "practical". I therefore suggest pragmatic - of or pertaining to a practical point of view or practical considerations. Or even just useful.

I realise the question title asks for "a word" meaning "make more concrete". But his example sentence would be fine simply replacing "practical" with "pragmatic/useful". Though I personally would go for the simplicity of ...make THX issues more relevant to everyday life or similar.


What I understand by your quote is:

Philosophy strives to illuminate real world issues but has to start by discussing abstract principles.

You really have to jiggle the whole sentence to get anything halfways readable.


Short & Sweet

Please don’t use reify or reification. They're prominent in postmodernist criticism, which is just a bunch of hooey. They're academic jargon. You can’t apply straight English derivational morphology — simple stemmming — to figure out what they mean. They force you to know Latin. It's really irritating.

Better one-word answers include to express and to embody. Those are hard-working verbs without a bunch of faked-up -ificationalizing endings. Those don’t require massive pretence the way reify does. I don’t see what is wrong with to make concrete — is there saw law forbidding two-word answers?

  • 1
    This sounds like a rant rather than an answer. Can you edit radically to leave just the part that is your suggested answer?
    – Mitch
    Feb 21, 2012 at 18:59
  • @Mitch I’ve tried. Whether that’s good enough for what you want, I don’t know. Just saying not to use reify when plain English will do seems abrupt, as though it no longer seeks to convince but to dictate, so I’ve left my longer exposition as an appendix to the main answer.
    – tchrist
    Feb 21, 2012 at 19:21
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    +1, bringing you back to love. Whether the word "reification" is needed gives rise for example to a page-and-a-half-long footnote in "Cognition and Eros: A Critique of the Kantian Paradigm." (books.google.com/books?id=EaZSy24J0WoC, footnote 6 page 218). A word that needs justification like that shouldn't be used without a page-and-a-half footnote about why it's needed. I run across the word now and then and feel its creeping into popular use; to me it makes the writer sound like a thesaurus rummager wanting to sound authoritative.
    – Levin
    Jun 3, 2014 at 2:07

to make more concrete

is to convert from the abstract and useless to the concrete and practical. or as you say,

to transform technical issues into practical.

This really is a description of

to apply

In your example this would read as:

XYZ philosophical ideas are meant to apply to THX over the long-term...


Consider flesh out.

flesh out: to come up with the details once a guideline has been given

"XYZ philosophical ideas are meant to flesh out THX issues over long term, but solving the practical problems requires in the first step critical understanding of present state through certain philosophical machinery."

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