input & imput

Discussion in 'English Only' started by colin.Fu, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. colin.Fu

    colin.Fu Junior Member

    Are these two words having the same meaning and can be replaced by each other in any situation?

  2. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    As far as I know, 'imput' is not a word.
  3. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    Hello, colin.fu,

    Input is an English word, but imput is not as far as Gwan and I know. Where did you see it? There is an English word impute, which is in the WR dictionary. It has a completely different meaning from input, as you will see if you look at the definitions.

    A hint for next time: if you want to ask about the meanings of words, you should include Context and Background. When you want to compare the meanings of two words, you should include a sample sentence or two in which you might use them. It gives us a starting point for our discussion.

    If you still have doubts about the meaning of input, please give us a sample sentence and tell us what it is that you need explained.
  4. colin.Fu

    colin.Fu Junior Member

    Thank you Gwan & Cagey:), I just got this word when I look up the meaning of the word 'input' and I misspelt it by 'imput' and I got the result said that 'imput = input', so I just curious and check out elsewhere on Internet and barely get nothing, so I post a thread here. Maybe there are some mistakes of the online dictionary and the word 'imput' may not exist.

    And for your information, this is the URL of Online Dictionary I got the word 'imput' (

    Thanks again, May you both have a nice day!
  5. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I expect the imput arose from the fact that if you said 'input' casually, it will come out as 'imput':D! As you can see from the responses, people wouldn't see this as a valid reason for allowing this spelling. (Imagine if we were allowed to WRITE 'hambag', which is what many people say when they say 'handbag'!)

    HOWEVER, I have a counter-example: if you think of a word like import, the Latin word from which it is derived is itself derived from in- 'into' + portare 'to carry'. Similarly, impose, imbibe, embroil or impale.
  6. mikadeaux New Member

    english - American
    Building on natkretep's answer, the reason for this has to do with the part of the mouth that both "m" and "p" are articulated. Both sounds are bi-labial, meaning they are formed with the lips. It is (by a rather minute definition of "ease") easier for english speakers to move from one bi-labial consonant to another than to switch places of articulation. Both "m" and "n" are produced in a nasal "manner" meaning the air which creates the sound comes mainly through the nose. So "m" is the closest approximation of "n" if the speaker is producing the sound in the same manner, but unconsciously is allowing the place of articulation to approximate a closer-by sound. In this case the sound to which the "n" in the prefix "n" is approximating is the "p" of put. Since I think about this stuff way too much, I'd also posit that the reason the n changes to m rather than the p changing to the plosive equivalent of the alveolar "t" is that there is also a primacy placed on root words. It is more acceptable to adjust the sound of a prefix from "in-" to "im-" than to change a root morpheme such as "put" to "tut." I'd expect this is due to a root having a greater specificity of meaning than a prefix, and that fidelity to that root's uniqueness would more significatly impact the meaning of the final word than changing the sound of the prefix morpheme.
  7. PhoenixCodes New Member

    Greetings! I recently came across the word 'imput' as well, andwas interested in the etymology of it. According to Merriam-Webster's Unabridged version, 'imput' is indeed an acceptable variant of the word 'input'. However, I can not verify this anywhere else, nor find the etymology of the word. Perhaps someone else has an idea of where to search?
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi PhoenixCodes - welcome to the forums!

    It's fascinating that Merriam-Webster sees the spelling "imput" as an acceptable variant of "input". In spelling terms, I would see it as an unacceptable variant, despite the fact that it represents a commonly-heard pronunciation. Given that "input" is a combination of "in" and "put", I can't see an etymological reason for the spelling "imput". Although I suppose that if 18th-century grammarians had got the bit between the teeth on this word and decided we should be linking it to Latin "imponere", then we might all be writing "imput":D.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  9. PhoenixCodes New Member

    Aye, that's what I thought as well... I actually saw the word on a campaign flyer, and said to my girlfriend, "He can't spell, yet he wants me to vote for him?", to which she pointed out the fact that within a college, the word would be acceptable, since Merriam-Webster is the 'official' dictionary in most colleges. So, I suppose I must be resigned to the fact that while it has no etymological history nor reason, other than common mispronunciation and spelling, it is an acceptable word in today's society.

    I still won't vote for him though, based on that flyer!
  10. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I wouldn't vote for him either, Phoenix!:D
  11. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    It would probably be wise to stay with English-language dictionaries such as the one accessible by using the box at the top of this page. Others such as are also reliable, and there are many others, both British and American, online.
  12. mplsray Senior Member

    Out of curiosity, I signed up for the trial subscription for Merriam-Webster's Unabridged. Here's the entry for imput:

    Under the entry "input," it identifies the variant by preceding it with "also," meaning it occurs less often than input.

    And how!

    I should note that the editors of the Merriam-Webster Unabridged were exceptionally reluctant to identify usages as "nonstandard" or "substandard." The word ain't for example, is identified as "substandard" only its use for "have not" and "has not." In its uses for "are not," "is not," and "am not," it is not so labeled, because it is "used orally in most parts of the United States by many cultivated speakers especially in the phrase ain't I." Irregardless is marked as "nonstand[ard]," but again, this label is used quite rarely in that dictionary.
  13. PhoenixCodes New Member

    Mplsray: Thank you, that does explain a lot! It makes me wonder about said editors though; the editors more willing to mangle the English language than to say someone is incorrect, it seems.

    I actually did the same thing with their site... don't forget to cancel again!

    Thanks for explaining more, and helping to find a satisfactory answer.

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