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  • Dear Sharon,

    This is a strange one. I would have thought that to “winterize” something would mean to store it away for protection during the cold winter months. We do this for example with our motorbikes here in the south of Germany. A quick google search will reveal lots of websites giving tips on how to winterize a motorbike (including US websites). The German word for this is “einwintern” and when this word is used its meaning is very clear, i.e. the bike remains in the garage during the winter.

    This means that if you have understood the train company representative to have meant “preparing the trains for winter conditions”, then he/she has used the word with the exact opposite meaning! Which one is going to win the battle, do you think – the US version or the other one? Or is it simply a question of defining exactly what “preparing for winter” means – staying in or wrapping up and going out?

    And, more crucially, what effect is that going to have on the -ize suffix in future word formation? The results could be confusing!

    Thanks for the post, anyway.


  • Interesting – ‘winterize’ as a term to mean ‘store something away for protection’ at first glance seems a bit odd to me, but it does fit much better with the more common use of the -ize suffix, since you’re effectively changing it into its winter state (i.e. temporarily decommissioned). The train company rep definitely didn’t seem to be suggesting that the trains be put away for the winter, though, so I guess, as you say, it just comes down to the differences in meaning we can apply to ‘preparing for winter’. (My money, as I watch the snow falling, is definitely on hibernating!)

    As to what this means for the -ize suffix, it will be interesting to see.