Taster’s Choice Follow-Up: Is “Youthened” A Word?

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A reader has suggested that maybe the most noteworthy thing about the Christoff decision is that "the California Supreme Court thinks 'youthened' is a legitimate verb."  See Christoff v. Nestle USA, Inc., No. S155242, slip op. at 3 (Cal. Aug. 17, 2009) (stating that "Christoff's photograph was youthened to make him appear younger and more similar to the original taster.").  I was also horrified by that, but I get distracted by the fact that the photograph was tweaked to make him look "Mexican."  But this does seem worth noting.

To my surprise, "youthen" does appear to be a legitimate verb, or at least one that you can find in the Oxford English Dictionary, not as a separate entry but as a form of the word "youth":

Hence youthen, v., trans. to make youthful, impart a youthful appearance to; intr. to become youthful, acquire youthful qualities . . . .

1882 Even. Star (Philad.) 28 Apr., No dress *youthens a girl so much as white. 1916 C. H. SORLEY Lett. (1919) 140 You will always be forty to strangers perhaps: and youthen as you get to know them.

Obviously, though, just because a word exists doesn't mean you shouldn't look for another one, especially if the last time anybody used it was during the First World War.  It turns out, though, that it actually could have been worse:

youthify, v., trans. To make (a person) appear more youthful.

I couldn't help researching the question whether there are similarly horrible terms for the other stuff that was done to Christoff's picture, such as a word for "to inflict sideburns upon" or "to render Mexican in appearance." And, horribly, there are.

Burnside's Spectacular Burns The OED has no separate entry for "sideburns," possibly because that is an American word coined during the Civil War as a result of the fact that Union General Ambrose Burnside wore his facial hair this way.  It looks like the British still use the term "whiskers" for this, and the OED does have an entry for the verb "bewhisker," defined as "to adorn with whiskers."

Then there is the act of making Mr. Christoff look like a Latino.  "Latinize" is already taken; it means to render something into the Latin language or alphabet, or to conform a practice to the rites of the Latin (Catholic) Church.  But if you can be more specific, the OED has a word for you:

Mexicanize, v. trans. To cause to become Mexican in character or appearance; to subject to the influence or domination of Mexicans or Mexican culture.

So the Court could have said "Christoff's photograph was youthified, bewhiskered and Mexicanized," and the OED, at least, would have been just fine with that. Or it could just have said that the photo was "altered," which seems like it would have done the trick.

Link: Oxford English Dictionary (subscription may be required)