endorse (only "on the back of xxx"?)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Alva K, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Alva K Junior Member

    Hi I have a question about "endorsement" in the definition above. Here's what I read in the dictionary.

    Merriam Webster: endorse: to write on the back of; especially: to sign one's name as payee on the back of (a check) in order to obtain the cash or credit represented on the face.

    Must "endorse" only be used to mean "to write on the back of"? Can it also be used in this sense "2. To place (one's signature), as on a contract, to indicate approval of its contents or terms.[American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language]? If it can be, how do you know where the signature is written? It seems that "to endorse a check" is always "to sign one's name on the back of the check", but what about other things, for example, when you endorse a bill, a bill of exchange, or a commercial paper, does that mean you approve it by signing your name of the back of xxx? Or on the front of xxx? Or it can be either?
     
  2. papakapp Senior Member

    English - NW US
    In my estimation, whether you write on the back or front is quite incidental. I think Webster's definition is flawed.
     
  3. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
  4. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English

    No, of course not; that is why the dictionary you quote gives seven different definitions.

    It can be used in any of the seven different senses defined by the dictionary you originally cited. Why are you only looking at one definition, when it is clear there are six others as well?


    In my estimation, your estimation is flawed. When one uses the word to mean "to write on the back of a check", it is not at all "incidental" to that particular definition where one writes; it is instead at the very heart of the definition -- which is not, by the way, the only definition suppled by the dictionary in question.
     
  5. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    U.S. practice requires endorsing a check on the back. Signing it anywhere else is not an endorsement.

    That is specific to the U.S. and to checks. Other countries may have similar requirements for checks (or for cheques); I don't know. When it comes to any other sort of document, different rules apply.

    So, Webster's is correct - but only in the given narrow context. It would be an error to extrapolate that definition to other contexts.
     
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Alva, endorse in a general sense means to indicate approval/acceptance. Checks are endorsed (at least in the US, as Egmont says) by signing (or stamping) the back, indicating acceptance of the payment. Other documents may also be endorsed, and there are usually specifications for how and where the endorsement is to be placed. An endorsement need not include a signature: If I say, for example, that I endorse a candidate for political office, it means that I approve, and urge others to vote for, that person.
     
  7. Alva K Junior Member


    The definitions in the Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster sort of make me confused until I read definition 2 (see original post) in American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language that reminds me of the sense of "approve", as in "to endorse (approve, support) a candidate in the election", and this is the meaning I had seen being used in other articles before. It seems "approve" is the main sense of "endorse", so I was wondering perhaps the sense of "to write or sign on the check or other things" is coming from this sense (to approve), but I couldn't be sure since English is not my native language. :)

    Parla made a perfect summary of this word. Now I understand (just to change the order of Parla's comment, hope Parla doesn't mind) "to endorse a candidate for political office, it means that I approve, and urge others to vote for, that person." And "to endorse a check or other documents" means "to approve by signing one's name on it", but when it comes to "to endorse a check" in the US (other countries may be different), you endorse it by signing (or stamping) the back of it, but the main sense "approve" is still there, it just means that you approve it by doing this.

    Thank you everyone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011

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