I've heard a perfect word to describe this before but I was not diligent enough to write it down; never thought I'd actually have a chance to use it. I just remember it was a fairly advanced/academic term to describe simplifying something. I do remember bits and pieces of the original sentence I heard it from, context is how adult hobbyist lego collectors critique certain lego releases:

"I'm not particularly fond of this set, because, as you can see, the build of the car has really been _______. They are clearly trying to make this set more accessible but it's come at the cost of quality and sophistication."

The way the word I'm trying to think of differs from "simplified" is that the word I'm trying to think of has a connotation of being designed for a younger audience, maybe like juniorized but that's not a word nor is it the academic-sounding word I'm sure was used.


17 Answers 17


Juvenilized from Dictionary.com

to make juvenile or immature:

to make suitable for or more appealing to children.

I see that this was also suggested by @tchrist in a comment on @Lambie's answer

  • I think it may have been this word after all; it just hit me the other day after 3 months since I asked this question. Thank you Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 5:44

It seems apparent to me that the idiom you're looking for is dumbed down.

dumb down vb
(tr) to make or become less intellectually demanding or sophisticated: attempts to dumb down news coverage.
TFD Online

In your text, it would read:

"I'm not particularly fond of this set, because, as you can see, the build of the car has really been dumbed down. They are clearly trying to make this set more accessible but it's come at the cost of quality and sophistication."


The fact you thought of "juniorized" maybe suggests the word was infantilize(d)

From Merriam-Webster:

1 : to make or keep infantile

2 : to treat as if infantile

and synonyms of infantile, again from Merriam-Webster:

naive (or naïve), simple, simplistic, unsophisticated

  • 5
    It might be explicitly noted that this word is really pejorative. However, in the context of an adverse review as in the question, that might exactly what's needed.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 10:53
  • 6
    This word is usually used when referring to a person, not a concept.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 21:32

I believe the verb is downgrade. It has the general meaning of reducing the quality, importance etc. of something, as an opposite of upgrade; and it can be used in different contexts. The word can be used for reducing the quality, complexity and sophistication of a product like a toy also.

to lower in quality, value, status, or extent - MW

To reduce in complexity, or remove unnecessary parts; to dumb down. - Wiktionary

I've even found examples of the verb downgrade in lego context used by lego fans:

If LEGO had downgraded it to a 4+ or even 6+ age range, it would have been a vast departure from the spirit of what people had supported. - eurobricks.com

I was looking at the new City sets recently and I'm surprised how much the theme has downgraded. - r/lego / reddit.com

  • 1
    I've provided the usage of "downgrade" in the exact lego context of the OP. I've highlighted the idiom "dumb down" also as I was aware it had the intended definition, but the OP is looking for a formal single word.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 10:02

The set has been debased.

to reduce the quality or value of something
Some argue that money has debased football.
Our world view has become debased. We no longer have a sense of the sacred.

Possible synonyms include cheapened, downgraded, or even bowdlerised) although this is usually reserved for written material).

  • 4
    debased is a morals or moralistic term.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 14:42

Right, so the word that springs to mind immediately here is simplified and over-simplified.

Does that require reference? :)

Millions of Lego-lovers disagree with Kroto's analysis. But occasionally single items of Lego cause resentment - such as a windscreen/roof block made for the cab of a pick-up truck released in 2003. The orange piece, which appeared in just one set, was just one example of Lego becoming over-simplified, while the truck was "an abomination", Big Sal's Brick Blog says.

BBC+ over-simplified

It’s kind of amazing, how much the look and feel of the LEGO “Frozen” ice palace set is retained in this simplified DUPLO set.


  • Thanks. That's definitely the same topic: using a single piece for a car chasis, but it's not ringing a bell. I've been looking at lego review vidoes for 2 hours and can't find it. Really driving me nuts. I remember when he said this word I immediately thought to myself "wow, that's an ivy-league word" Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 14:46
  • I can't imagine an "ivy-league word" for this. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 14:49
  • +1, but "over-simplify" is usually written as a single word without the hyphen.
    – Justin
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 19:32
  • @Justin Yes, but I was quoting the BBC's article, but I do take your point. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 20:32
  • 4
    @Lambie If you're looking for an "ivy-league word", A.K.A. an inkhorn term from the everflowing fountain pen of Auntie Quitty from her domicile on Wardour Street, you might poke about at words like stultified, infrunite, impuberated, jejunated, gracilcent, inquinated, juvenilized, incrassate, annotinuous, fatiscent, hebetated, or hypophrenic. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 3:29

Another possibility is trivialized (“To make trivial; reduce to triviality,” according to Merriam Webster.)

This word has a more negative connotation, like oversimplify (whereas simplify or demystify has a more positive one, and popularize is in between).


For what it's worth, "juniorize" is in common use in the context of Lego hobbyists to describe exactly this type of design. You said in the question that you thought it might have been another word, but "juniorize" is exactly what I'd expect someone to use in this context to describe a simplified Lego build.

Examples (emphasis added):

Juniorization (or Juniorisation in British English) refers to simplified (building) designs using larger parts, which makes the "juniorized" sets easier to construct by younger LEGO builders.


Well because there's no real need for juniorization. You just mentioned yourself "why not just buy brick buckets?", well that shows the problem right there. They're making their sets unappealing towards the MOCing audience...hell, the entire audience! Sure, they're 'easier' and faster to build, but at what cost? Sound construction? Sturdy structures? Unnecessary new molds which are not only harder to incorporate into a MOC but take away from new, potentially useful new molds, are another factor.


Those who know a little bit about the history of Lego probably won't be surprised that the truck with 28% specialised parts was from the early 2000's, a time when the number of parts and colours spiralled out of control, with many 'juniorised' sets, containing large specialised pieces. You'll notice that this is the set that contains the unique windscreen pictured above.


  • I think OP wanted a term that can be used outside the Lego context. Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 0:22
  • What a twist! It is an actual term used in lego jargon. It was not meant to be eliminated in the first place. Sometimes, the OPs just want to find the word that they forgot about and it makes the question more challenging. This answer is very useful though. Upvoted.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 5:50

"To go downmarket"

"I'm not particularly fond of this set, because, as you can see, the build of the car has really gone downmarket. They are clearly trying to make this set more accessible but it's come at the cost of quality and sophistication."

From the dictionary:

to a lower quality and price:
This catalogue has gone downmarket since the last time I bought something from it.

The Truth About Successful Entrepreneurship

The rise of a mass-class market means that many luxury products have gone downmarket.

Ray-Ban's Never Hide Ad Campaign

But the Italian company was faced with a problem. Ray-Ban sunglasses had gone downmarket, and the cheaply-made shades were selling in supermarkets for just a few dollars.

Alan Bennett: Nothing pleases me more than annoying people at 80

Nothing is more pleasing than knowing one can still provoke people at the age of 80, the playwright Alan Bennett has said, as he accuses the government of “treachery” and the National Trust of “going downmarket”.


In addition to the existing suggestions, there's also vulgarize and superficialize.


  • to spoil the quality or lower the standard of something that is good

    Longman Dictionary

  • make less subtle or complex.



(transitive) To render superficial; to trivialize.



I can think of popularise, in the sense of making something accessible and user friendly by simplification, or commercialise, in the sense of simplifying a product in such a way that people find it easy to use and are therefore more likely to buy it.


To make popular or accessible amongst a wide audience (WordHippo)


manage or exploit (an organization, activity, etc.) in a way designed to make a profit. (OxfordL)

However, these verbs are not particularly directed towards a young audience, but rather towards the general public.

  • 2
    These are marketing terms. And commercialize is rarely used in English/
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 1:59
  • @Lambie in American English, I don’t think popularize is a marketing term. although it is more often used today in the sense of “To make popular” than “to make suitable or acceptable to the common people.”
    – Davislor
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 16:53
  • @Davislor In any event, they are not related to making some product less sophisticated.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 16:55
  • @Lambie Merriam-Webster gives examples including, “Nonetheless, scientific articles and the books scientists write to popularize their findings too often oversell the research ....” and “This book presents a popularized version of American history.” This sense of “popularize” does connote oversimplification.
    – Davislor
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 17:01
  • @Davislor Scientific articles are not widgets. Here, we're dealing with widgets i.e. tangible objects. In fact, though, for those articles, it is not oversimplification. It is just explaining things in terms understandable to the layperson.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 17:03

Verb form of "degenerate" (i.e. pronounced with a long a sound) could work. Something can degenerate in more ways than just losing sophistication so it's not a word specifically for this purpose, but loss of sophistication could very reasonably be said to be a type of degeneration. Works very well in your example if you remove the word 'been'.

Deteriorate can work too, with the same caveats as above.

Yet another could be 'blunted'. Maybe a little more of a stretch but I think the logic is something like: sophisticated = intelligent = sharp, whose antonym is 'blunt'. Dull also could work but doesn't sound as nice.

"I'm not particularly fond of this set, because, as you can see, the build of the car has really [degenerated/deteriorated/been blunted]. They are clearly trying to make this set more accessible but it's come at the cost of quality and sophistication."

No references to dictionary definitions because it doesn't really matter what the dictionary says if your audience clearly understands you :)

Edit: That said, here's one I just learned thanks to this question: Vitiate. Google's definition: "spoil or impair the quality or efficiency of". Strictly speaking, probably the best one in this list, but hardly anyone is going to know what it means except for what they can derive from the context.


Streamline comes to mind also as the OP mentioned that it is a formal academic-sounding word. It means to simplify a system, business, process, etc. or to make it more efficient.

to make simpler or more efficient
a system that streamlines the process

Here are the examples I've found in lego context where streamline is used to simplify lego content or to make it suitable for younger audience (one of them is in LEGO video game context):

I see the next iteration of Design by Me going one of two ways, ether becoming a tool for more serious Lego enthusiast to have a means to bring their dream builds into reality or somehow being simplified and streamlined for younger consumers.

The story is told similarly to LEGO The Lord of the Rings. Audio for the main characters has been ripped straight from the films, though streamlined to be more appropriate for children.

  • Too positive, in my opinion. You'd need context for it to have a negative connotation. Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 0:21
  • @aparente001 The definition can be positive but it has the intended meaning in the context. I've provided examples within the context. This is not just about finding words that have some matching elements of the intended meaning. The question has details and a context. My primary choice was "downgrade", but this fits also as a formal option that has an actual usage in the OP's context.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 5:11

Tarnished could work well. From Merriam Webster:

1: to dull or destroy the luster of by or as if by air, dust, or dirt : SOIL, STAIN
2: to detract from the good quality of


It is not an exact match, but you should still consider commoditize:

another term for commodify

And its synonym, commodify:

Turn into or treat as a commodity.

In your sentence:

I'm not particularly fond of this set, because, as you can see, the build of the car has really been commoditized.

The connotation being they have taken a car that used to be high-end and turned it into something sold as a commodity.

  • Was going to say this myself but I was lazy and hoped someone else would say it instead.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 1:14

Something can be pared-down or distilled. Either of these terms is often followed by "to its essentials".

The meaning is that the non-essential aspects have been stripped away, and the connotation is that this is perhaps for the better. They do not have the negative implications of terms like "debased" or "degraded".


The simple answer would be massified:

To become, or cause to become, oriented toward mass production, mass consumption, and high throughput rather than individuality.


The stereotypical mass production is the Ford T.

  • 1
    This isn’t a word you see every day, but it fits here. The delicate features of the original have been made more massive in addition to the mass-production aspect. I could see a certain type of reviewer slipping this into their review.
    – user205876
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 16:31

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