Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Oct 21 2009   3:18PM GMT

Which is correct — oriented or orientated?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
Business writing
CIO
grammar
orient vs. orientate
Quiz
synonyms
word choice
word origins

Which is correct?
The user found that the application worked well if she could get the phone view ________ with the package barcode.
a. orientated
b. oriented


Answer: Either one.

Explanation:
I empathize with the commenter on this Wordwizard thread who said “Oriented and orientated are evidently synonymous, but I can’t stand it! Can anyone give me some ammunition for my claim that ‘orientated’ came to be accepted only after sufficient misuse? Or at least that ‘orientated’ is a poor substitute for ‘oriented?’”

There really isn’t much help for either of us — the most comfort we can take is that “orient” was the original form and “orientate” arose later.

Here’s an excerpt from a fascinating comment from Ken Greenwald:

The word passed into English in the 14th century via Old French as the adjective and noun ‘orient.’ With the spread of Christianity into Europe it became customary to build churches with their longitudinal axes pointing eastward toward Jerusalem. This practice gave rise to the use of ‘orient’ as a verb (via the French ‘orienter,’ a derivative of the adjective ‘orient’— 1727-41) meaning ‘to cause to face or point toward the east,’ to turn east. It was then used by extension (1842) to mean ‘to place or adjust in any particular way with respect to the cardinal points or other defined data.’ And then, finally, in 1850 it came to be used figuratively to mean ‘to adjust, correct, or bring into defined relations, to known facts or principles; to put oneself in the right position or relation; to ascertain one’s ‘bearings,’ find out ‘where one is.’”

> Read the rest of that thread.

Sigh. It appears that “orientated” is every bit as correct as “oriented.” I will just have to bear up and accept it.

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