birthday celebrant or celebrator

Discussion in 'English Only' started by epistolario, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. epistolario

    epistolario Senior Member

    Here, we call someone who celebrates his birthday a birthday celebrant. For example, there is a party and a relative comes in and asks: Who is the celebrant? Some people will tell him it's Peter's birthday today or simply answer "Peter".

    However, local English trainers consider this term a Filipinoism. They say that the correct term is celebrator because a celebrant is the officiating priest in a Eucharist or mass. But there is another English trainer who pointed out that the two are actually interchangeable. And it seems that the latter is correct. When I looked up my Merriam-Webster unabridged, it says:

    b : one who participates in any noisy party (as one at which there is a good deal of drinking)

    And this is what Wordreference Dictionary says:

    2 celebrant, celebrator, celebrater: a person who is celebrating

    Is it correct to use the word celebrant to refer to those celebrating their birthday? Is it a commonly used term when you attend birthday parties? If not, how would you inform someone that it is somebody's birthday? Even if the term is correct, I don't think it sounds natural to you. Please give expressions used by native speakers. Thank you.
  2. Matamoscas Senior Member

    Ireland English
    I would never use this term, or any of them, for someone having a birthday party; they are far too formal.
    Whose birthday is it? Whose party is it? would be the expressions I would use and expect to hear. Even we are celebrating Jim's birthday would seem a little strange, as if you did not think he would make it through the year.
    I note that the Latin verb when it means celebrate also means solemnise as in a public assembly, hence the Mass and marriage usage.
  3. epistolario

    epistolario Senior Member

    Thanks. How about in other English-speaking regions?
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Well, in my "English from England" variety, we wouldn't say "celebrant" or "celebrator" either....
  5. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I agree with Loob. Looking at examples on the web, I found most of them to be strained and unnatural sounding. Both words are too formal for the occasion, in my view, and at worst sound pretentious. The dictionaries may well agree that they are literally suitable, but that's not always very helpful in choosing natural English vocabulary.
  6. Alma Shofner Senior Member

    California (wine country)
    Mexican Spanish from Sonora
    To add to Matamoscas, we will say here in CA. Whose birthday we are celebrating?
  7. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I think celebrating or forms of the verb celebrate are fine, although I think they would tend to occur in announcements or reports about birthdays, rather than informal conversation, as I think they are a little formal. But these words for the person celebrating just don't sound natural to me.
  8. epistolario

    epistolario Senior Member


    I think, based on Merriam-Webster unabridged entry of "celebrant":

    one who participates in any noisy party (as one at which there is a good deal of drinking)

    It is not necessarily the one who is celebrating but also includes the guests. But it seems that it is rarely used and is restricted to formal writing.
  9. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață


    I don't recall ever using or hearing "celebrant" (but that doesn't say much, really). Usually I'd ask "who's the birthday boy/girl?"
  10. Cathy_J New Member

    Maybe "the hero of the day" would do instead of "celebrant" or "celebrator"?
  11. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    A celebrant is a person who officiates at a liturgical or similar ceremony.

    Pope Francis celebrated Mass. Pope Francis was the celebrant at the Easter Vigil Mass.

    The Patriarch of Moscow was the chief celebrant at the consecration of the Bishop of Serpukhov.

    Mary and John were married in Causton Castle by a civil marriage celebrant.

    Nothing whatever to do with celebrating birthdays.
  12. Elwintee Senior Member

    London England
    England English
    Informally, in BrE, we often ask "Who's the birthday boy / birthday girl?" This is irrespective of the age of the 'celebrant' (a word never used in that context) - they could be over 80!
  13. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    If we didn't know the sex of the celebrant/celebrator/celebrity -- :) -- we might say, "Whose birthday is it?" And post 6 has the equally appropriate: Whose birthday we are celebrating?
  14. london calling Senior Member

    Whose birthday are we celebrating?, you mean?;) I'd say that too (along with 'Whose birthday is it?' etc).;)

    sounds far too formal to these London ears as well.:)
  15. ExciteIntel New Member

    English-standard/southern usa
    Google gives this word the green light for referring to a person who is celebrating their birthday in North American usage.
    I just used this word in a birthday cookout dinner party program to refer to the person who was celebrating their birthday. Verbally, I would only use the word to introduce the person at the event they were being celebrated at.

    I do happen to do most of my writing and introducing of people in a kind of formal environment (Traditional African American Baptist) where I am representing an
  16. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello ExciteIntel, and welcome to this forum :)
    I expect you mean that you have found examples on Google showing this usage. That doesn't necessarily mean that it is natural or normal usage.

    Dictionary definitions (WordReference, Merriam-Webster,, OED) allow for two quite distinct usages.
    The celebrant who is in charge of, or leading, some kind of formal event - examples above. This meaning is in routine use.
    The celebrant who is one of a number of individuals involved in celebrating something or other. This is much less common,

    None of the definitions allow for the celebrant to be the one who is being celebrated - the guest of honour.
  17. london calling Senior Member

    Who's the birthday boy /girl?

    I've never heard 'celebrant ' to mean that either.
  18. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Do you have the reference?

    If you are in a position of being "The Master of Ceremonies" so to speak, then it would be you who is the celebrant - you lead the celebrations.

    Those who cheer you to the rafters are also celebrants. The "-ant" (equivalent to "-ing") suffix indicates the subject "doing the action of the verb" and not the object of the verb, i.e. the person whose birthday it is - the person who is being celebrated (note the passive.)

    If there were such a word, he would be "the celebrated". :)

Share This Page