I'm wondering if there's a word out there for me. I think that a clever use of a prefix would do as well.

So, to revive means to make alive, and to kill means to make dead. Is there a word that means to toggle someone or something's life/death status?

Alternatively, and I know that this is a long shot, but I could use a word or phrase that means changing one's mind (or pronunciation) regarding the life/death status of inanimate objects (or living things).

Related: is there a medical term for disagreement about a patient's life/death status?

Is there a natural prefix that means 'toggle' or 'switch'?

Is there a word that means life/death status, similar to how 'beatitude' might describe blessed/unblessed status?

EDIT: I'm going with 'transanimate'. Thanks for the help!

  • But 'beatitude' doesn't describe 'blessed/unblessed status' - it only describes blessedness. Come to that, revive/kill wouldn't be understood as 'opposites' outside the computer gaming context where the attribute 'life' can be repeatedly and casually toggled. If you're looking for a computer game term, common ones are vitality and health - particularly in contexts where a value of 100 (percent) means you're 'fully alive/fighting fit', and 0 means you're dead/game over. – FumbleFingers Oct 11 '12 at 21:46
  • In medicine, can't the status of death be granted or revoked? – zpmorgan Oct 11 '12 at 21:54
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    Not really. Generally speaking, the status of being dead is an objective fact, not something that can be altered by subjective assessment or a change of opinion. – FumbleFingers Oct 11 '12 at 22:03
  • Revive doesn't mean to make alive, it means to restore to life. That is, one cannot revive something that was not previously alive. – nnnnnn Sep 16 '19 at 10:42

Probably Romans 7:9 and the surrounding verses probably have the clearest references to toggling aliveness: "I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died." Since this venerable reference has no better term for it, I have to imagine that there is none.

Looking up "to hover between life and death," I found "terminal state," which may serve for "life/death status."

Is "trans-" the closest prefix to the meaning "switch" or "toggle"?

Perhaps you should coin a term?

I togglived ("toggle-lived") him.


He gave me no choice, so I trans-slew him.

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  • Yes! 'trans-' can mean 'to or on the other side of.' So 'transanimate' does the job, I think. I will use it. – zpmorgan Oct 11 '12 at 22:01
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    @FumbleFingers: Transmogrifier? ;^) Shipr: "Since this venerable reference has no better term for it, I have to imagine that there is none." No offense to Paul or the New Testament, but that's a pretty weak logical argument. – J.R. Oct 12 '12 at 0:46
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    @J.R.: Not that it will save shipr's bacon here, but I'll grant you transmogrify is an interesting word. OED says it's vulgar or humorous (a pre-Victorian equivalent of today's humungous, cromulent, embiggen, I guess). But they don't have much idea what it came from, or how to interpret the trans "prefix". To quote - If the original form was transmigrafy , this may have been a vulgar or uneducated formation in -fy from transmigure v., or transmigrate v. (compare transmigration n. 3b). Apparently, it was originally persons that were ‘transmografied’, or metamorphosed. – FumbleFingers Oct 12 '12 at 2:47
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    Whoops, a little confusion there. My other comment was to @J.R. To FumbleFingers, verbs such as "transship" indeed use "trans-" to mean across, but to cross the boundary between two mutually exclusive states produces toggling. So I think "transanimate" is a good choice here. And remember: I phrased it as a question, not an assertion. – shipr Oct 12 '12 at 15:01
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    @shipr: I wouldn't blow the trumpet for transanimate too much. OED says it's obsolete and rare, and Google mostly thinks I must be looking for transaminate (the reversible exchange of amino groups between different amino acids). So, not really a good choice to illustrate anything, imho. – FumbleFingers Oct 12 '12 at 18:26

While I am not aware of a term that describes the switch between alive and dead, aliveness describes life/death status

the quality of being alive

It appears to have an increasing usage in both British and American English.

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  • 'Animation' was more popular before 1900; I guess my search is narrowing down to something like a conditional 'reanimate' and 'deanimate'. – zpmorgan Oct 11 '12 at 21:40
  • @zpmorgan Animation came to mind, but the multiple meanings gave me pause. – bib Oct 11 '12 at 21:44
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    I found it by looking up 'aliveness' in an online thesaurus. 'reanimate' & 'deanimate' are less ambiguous, I think. – zpmorgan Oct 11 '12 at 21:57

How about using toggle or torture?

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    Can you expand on why you suggest those words, and possibly could you add relevant dictionary definitions supporting your suggestions? – JLG Oct 12 '12 at 3:40

Well, in gaming terms there's respawn; which means you were killed and came back.

I would also add resurrect as a possibility but I can't think of a better fit.

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  • Sure, but it has to be conditional; resurrect if dead & kill if alive. – zpmorgan Oct 11 '12 at 21:29

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