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What is a verb for the meaning "To be identical"?

identical adjective
Things that are identical are exactly the same.
Collins

For instance, instead of saying "Diamonds are never identical", I can say:

Diamonds never [insert a verb here].

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  • The crystalline structure of a natural diamond is like a snowflake, no two diamonds are alike. Good luck! Jul 24 at 15:59

6 Answers 6

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The verb match can be used intransitively for the meaning 'to be identical'. The definition of the intransitive verb match for this sense from OED is:

(of two or more things) to possess identical or complementary characteristics; to go or fit together (also with up).

Wiktionary provides a more succinct definition and a very relevant example:

match
(intransitive) To agree; to be equal; to correspond.
These two copies are supposed to be identical, but they don't match.

Although, it is not that usual or natural to say:

Diamonds never match.

A natural way to say is:

(Two) Diamonds are never alike.

Still, one can find usages with the structure 'Xs never match'. Here are two examples I've found:

My brother Otto had a sweater with the very same snowflakes. Absurd, our father said, —snowflakes never match. Each one has its own crystal network.
The Rags of Time: A Novel by Maureen Howard

The DNA might be identical, but the fingerprints never match. In more than a century of use, in every country on earth, no two people have ever been shown to share the same fingerprint.
A Question of Evidence: The Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O. J. by Colin Evans


Additionally, the verb conform can be used intransitively for this meaning as well; but it doesn't work for your example sentence in colloquial usage. Perhaps, it can be used in a technical context in mathematics, geometry etc. Merriam-Webster definition of the intransitive conform, of the first sense:

to be similar or identical
also : to be in agreement or harmony —used with to or with

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    Often used as 'matching' Jul 23 at 9:50
  • A note on snowflakes: that is a fallacy based on an insufficient sample. In a given handful of snow in which individual flakes can be seen, it is vanishingly unlikely to see two the same, but out of the billions or trillions of snowflakes that have ever fallen, there is absolutely no evidence to back up the assertion that no two of those had exactly the same crystalline structure. Jul 24 at 7:49
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The be in be identical is a verb, or at least acts like one enough to be inflected and used as a verb. The technical term is predicate adjective; the be does the predicate part, and the identical does the adjective part.

There are also predicate nouns, like be a dentist. All of these can be treated as single, normally intransitive, verbs of more than one word, like sit down. Since verbs are the prototypical predicate, we don't hafta call them "predicate verbs", but they're in the same category.

Since English can make predicates out of just about anything, there is no reason to have a different special verb that means the same as a particular adjective, unless there's something special about it.

However, there are several ways to say things, especially negative things, so the actual question provides an example of what's wanted, which can be managed nicely.

  • Diamonds are never identical.

The question asks us to insert a verb after never:

  • Diamonds never [are identical].
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  • Copula verbs ostensibly capture the idea of equality. IN English though the semantics is one way (ie set membership A bear is a mammal but not How about some variation on 'equals'? 'Diamonds never equate (... to each other)'.?
    – Mitch
    Jul 22 at 19:58
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    "Copular verbs" in English are not a natural set; there's be and then there's a bunch of raising and other odd verbs, well on their trajectories to becoming auxiliaries, though not there yet. But they don't "capture" any ideas of equality. Jul 22 at 21:40
  • Shouldn't one mention a state or condition [be + adjective] versus doing something Aren't predicates in a different universe than verbs that do things?
    – Lambie
    Jul 22 at 22:46
  • There are active predicates and there are stative predicates. Both can appear as adjectives or as verbs. Rent is active, but own is stative, for instance. Honest is active, but tall is stative. There are several different types of both categories, and quite a few words (naturally; this is English) can fall into several classes, depending on context. Jul 22 at 22:54
  • Be honest, be tall, as opposed to rent a house, own a house. Isn't there as basic dichotomy there? Or not?
    – Lambie
    Jul 22 at 23:51
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No there isn't. Structures like "To be X" don't generally have corresponding verbs. There are not (for example) verbs corresponding to "To be green", "To be tall", to be moving", "to be intelligent". English uses the verb "to be" and an appropriate adjective.

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    "To be similar"="to resemble" so I don't see why a priori there couldn't be a verb "to be identical".
    – Stuart F
    Jul 22 at 19:11
  • I didn't say they never existed, I said they generally don't. And in this case there isn't. If you have a better answer feel free to write it. Jul 22 at 20:27
  • Right, they generally don't. be + x [adjective] describes a state, not an action.
    – Lambie
    Jul 22 at 22:38
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    In this case, I'd say there is such a verb - namely, "match". For your other examples, "tower" might work for "to be tall", and "locomote" could perhaps be a fit for "to be moving".
    – Showsni
    Jul 23 at 4:08
  • @Showsni, match does not mean to be identical. For example in the Uno card game we say that a red 5 matches a green 5 card, but they are not identical. We also say that a key matches a lock if it is the correct key, out of a number of keys, to fit the lock.
    – Peter
    Jul 23 at 13:12
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If you are looking at an informal way then you can use "twin".

Diamonds never twin!

In the new age lingo, twinning is the word used when two people wear a matching outfit.

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There is "coincide"

coincide INTRANSITIVE VERB
1.1 Correspond in nature; tally.
‘the interests of employers and employees do not always coincide’
Lexico

HERE we find a list of synonyms for this sense:
tally, correspond, agree, accord, concur, match, fit, be in agreement, be consistent, conform, equate, harmonize, be in tune, be compatible, dovetail, correlate, be the same as, parallel
informal square
North American informal jibe
archaic quadrate

Perhaps one of these will be what the OP searches?
‘Diamonds never match.’
‘Diamonds never concur.’
‘Diamonds never jibe.’

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What about replicate?

Diamonds never replicate

Lexico defines it Make an exact copy of; reproduce.

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    What about some references that explain why this is the right word.
    – fev
    Jul 23 at 5:03
  • Replicate is not used intransitively so "Diamonds never replicate" doesn't work. The transitive verb replicate can be used like this: "You can never replicate a diamond." I believe the only time replicate can be intransitive is in the context of biology, for the meaning 'to reproduce'.
    – ermanen
    Jul 23 at 7:57
  • Duplicate is the same; I thought it could be intransitive but Lexico doesn't have an intransitive sense and Merriam-Webster says it means "to become duplicated" not "to be duplicated" ("repeat" might be better although it has different connotations - e.g. a pattern repeats).
    – Stuart F
    Jul 23 at 10:47
  • Wrong word. "Replicate" suggests that the diamond does the work of making an exact copy of itself. Jul 24 at 7:45

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