I am not a native English speaker and I need a word means modifying a list/set to make it a unique-values list/set eliminating or replacing non-unique values with unique ones. For instance;

"Dup", "Dup", "Dup" --> "Dup", "Dup1", "Dup2"

I am also aware of deduplication suggestion, but I can't settle for it. Because, it sounds me that it means eliminating (deleting) duplicate values, but not replacing.

So, the word uniquate meets this meaning or it is completely different thing? And any other suggestion?

Edit: I need a word reflects especially replacement, but it is OK if it also reflects eliminating. I don't search for an answer focusing to only eliminating.

  • 1
    Your question title actually mentions Eliminate ... duplicates, so it's not surprising people addressed that IMO. You're actually trying to replace duplicates with new items to guarantee uniqueness or similar.
    – Useless
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:28
  • Yes, I actually need a word for replacement. But not necessarily fit to only replacement, it can cover also eliminating beside the replacement.
    – mmdemirbas
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:40
  • If you can't explain what the operation is, I'm not sure how much luck you'll have naming it.
    – Useless
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:45
  • OK, edited the question.
    – mmdemirbas
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:56

5 Answers 5


Your idea 'uniquate' is possible but few would understand its intention without a lot of context.


is not an officially recognized term, but uses the very productive and understandable suffix '-ify' meaning 'to make'. However this particular construction sounds too informal as a neologisms to be appropriate.

A single term is not necessary. You can say what is happening:

remove duplicates

  • Thanks, uniquify sounds better than uniquate. But "remove duplicates" doesn't reflect the actual operation in my case. As I said, I mean to "change duplicate instances of repeating items into another form, so they all are different from each other." For example: "Dup",Dup","Dup" => "Dup","Dup1","Dup2"
    – mmdemirbas
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:11
  • I've used uniquify with no confusion in the past (and I think it's the right answer here). However, I'd suggest deduplicate as a similarly well-understood replacement for remove duplicates.
    – Useless
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:25
  • I'm not unwilling to accept uniquify as a CS or mathematics coinage, but I can't find it in a dictionary anywhere. I'm also reluctant to trot out Google NGram searches as evidence, but uniquify flatlines there at 0.00%.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:55
  • 3
    May increase after this :)
    – mmdemirbas
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 14:00
  • 2
    I almost think I prefer unique as a verb over those other coinings for uniquification. Shop-jargon uses deduping pretty commonly.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 23:32

Uniquate and uniquify have no established currency in any context, but here are hundreds of written instances of deduplicate, nearly all specifically about removing duplicate keys from lists.

It may be that doesn't suit OP if he wants to keep all records, simply altering [a keyfield in] one of each duplicated pair so they are in fact different. When I did that I called it adding a duplicate-buster - by extending [keyfield] to include some meaningless and otherwise unused unique value.


How about disambiguate? Webster’s dictionary defines it to be:

to establish a single semantic or grammatical interpretation for.


I'm not aware of a single word, but you could say that you are changing a multiset into a true set.

From Wikipedia:

A set is a gathering together into a whole of definite, distinct objects... every element of a set must be unique; no two members may be identical.

In mathematics, the notion of multiset (or bag) is a generalization of the notion of set in which members are allowed to appear more than once.

Where did you get the word uniquate? I couldn't find it anywhere.

If it's indeed an invented term, and you were writing a paper, you could define uniquate as an operation that changes a bag, or multiset, into a true set, and then use that term in subsequent places in the paper where you want to describe that operation. You could even go further, and specify that the number of elements in the original multiset must remain constant:

We define uniquate as an operation that changes a bag, or multiset, into a true set, by replacing (not removing) any duplicate elements.

Then, later in the paper:

The next step of the process is to uniquate Bag B into Set B.

But I wouldn't use the word outright, without defining it first. (Even if it is a real word, it appears rare enough that a formal definition within the document would be warranted).

  • Yes, it is invented to name a method in my code. Thanks for your good approach.
    – mmdemirbas
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 13:05
  • 1
    If it's a method name, then, following the suggestion of @Jay below, you might go with MakeElementsUnique( ). (I assumed you were putting this into a document, not a program.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 16:01

If you only need to say this once or twice in whatever document you're preparing, I wouldn't use an obscure word or worse, invent a new word. Just use a short phrase to describe what you mean, like, "make all the values unique" or "replace all non-unique values with unique ones".

If it's something you need to say a million times to even a short phrase gets cumbersome, then: I don't know of any existing word. Mitch's suggestion of "uniquify" is not a bad neologism. Personally, though, I'd just say "make unique" and explain exactly what you mean on first use.

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