I have difficulty understanding the word 'bastardization' in this sentence I took from a vocabulary-builder app:

The movie World War Z is a complete bastardization of the book with little more in common than zombies and a title.

Not only do I not understand the meaning of it, but also the usage of the word. By the way, the app gives the synonym 'corruption' and according to Wiktionary (the fifth definition), it means:

The creation of an inferior copy or version; corruption, degradation, or debasement.

It hasn't enlightened me about its meaning. If I make a correct guess, is it the same way to say, as if someone adapts the story of a film from a novel, but he changes the story drastically?

If so, can I use it like this:

The Harry Potter franchise is an absolute bastardization of the original books!

  • The movie did not change the book. If something was bastardized, it was the movie. I believe the right phrasing should be "The movie World War Z is a complete bastard of the book".
    – yewgeniy
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 15:02
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    That suggestion is completely unidiomatic for me, @yewgeniy: Bastard is simply not used that way.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 16:19
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    You'd have to say the Harry Potter franchise. But otherwise yes, it's fine.
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 16:47
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    @ColinFine - familiar to me (UK locale) - Collins Dictionary ADJECTIVE If you refer to something as a bastardized form of something else, you mean that the first thing is similar to or copied from the second thing, but is of much poorer quality. [formal, disapproval]. Cambridge Dictionary similar, with example I made a bastardized version of a seafood marinara using tinned tuna. Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 17:22
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    @MichaelHarvey Truly gross. No, I shall not come to dinner. :) Anyway, re bastarized, yes.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


"Bastardization" means a corruption, a poor and distorted copy. The use of the term always indicates a quite negative judgement of the copy or adaptation.

The term is often used for some sort of transformation or derived work, such as a movie from a book, or a modern version from a classic work. The derived work is said to be a bastardization of the original. The term is not used when the derived work is just different, it expresses a negative value judgement.


Yes, that would be the same. Bastard originally meant a child from outside of marriage. They wouldn't receive the inheritance of their parents.

Bastardized, means something that isn't a good representation of the original. It fails to inherit from the original and perhaps came from a tainted source.

  • Which does make it have uncomfortable implications (e.g. "people whose parents were not married are inferior"). Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 3:16

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