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Tue, 12 Oct 2010

-ise vs -ize

Outraged of Edinburgh writes:

Dear Mr Free Press

Check out the Oxford English Dictionary online.

It's AMERICAN!

I wanted to check my use of "utilise" ('scuse the pun) but it wasn't there, only "utilize". Organize is but not organise.

Think I'd better give up the writing and go back to colouring in pictures(or is that coloring?)

Outraged is quite wrong. To start with, in almost all cases you can use "use" instead of "utilize". Shorter words are generally better than longer words with the same meaning, longer ones only serving to obfuscate or to show off.

Getting to the meat of Outraged's question, -ize is better, as it corresponds better to the Greek ending -ιζειν. -ise corresponds to Latin -itia. In general, one should use -ize for verbs and -ise (or -ice) for nouns, but, English being irritatingly inconsistent, there is no hard-and-fast rule, and in all but a very few cases, -ise and -ize are both acceptable in verbs.

In the OED, see -ise(2) and -ize.

-ize is sometimes thought of as being an American novelty because the spelling diverged after the foundation of the Colonies. However, as in so many cases, it is English that has diverged while the ever-conservative Damnyankees have remained true to the mother tongue. In this case, the switch from -ize to -ise was part of a wider Frenchification of the written language in the 18th century, by writers who thought that so doing made them appear to be more kulchural. This arrant nonsense also brought us "theatre" instead of "theater".

Posted at 00:09 by David Cantrell
keywords: books | culture | language
Permalink | 2 Comments

I have made this blog post famous via twitter. Shower me with gifts in gratitude.

Posted by Geeklawyer on Tue, 12 Oct 2010 at 09:18:58


I do beg your pardon for being quite wrong and shall be eternally grateful for having been well and truely corrected.

Not-quite-so-Outraged of Edinburgh

Posted by Ruth on Sun, 17 Oct 2010 at 12:27:59


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