disoriented/disorientated, disorient/disorientate, orient/orientate, oriented/orientated

Loob

Senior Member
English UK
The suffix -ate is I believe NOT added to verbs to form an adjective when the verb ends in a "t" (perhaps it is not added to verbs at all to form an adjective...
If somebody can point out a verb that ends in a "t" and which is adjectivized by the addition of -ate then I would be interested to hear it.
I can't, I'm afraid.

But then it's the verb disorientate that ends in -ate, and the past participle adjective disorientated which is derived from it....
 
  • lianafelice

    New Member
    English - American
    I can't, I'm afraid.

    But then it's the verb disorientate that ends in -ate, and the past participle adjective disorientated which is derived from it....

    This is not entirely true, Merriam-Webster defines the verb disorientate as disorient, while disorient is given a full definition; i.e. to cause to lose bearings. Interestingly enough, Merriam-Webster also gives disorient a Circa 1655 stamp, while disorientated gets a Circa 1704 stamp. Not much of a notable difference in the timeline, but there it is.

    I stumbled upon this topic after watching my newly purchased copy of Planet Earth, narrated by the fabulous Mr. David Attenborough. He continually used disorientated, and it became more and more irksome the more I heard it. I finally decided to to some research on-line about the word and it's use, which lead me here.

    It seems to me the two have been in use so long, it's silly to say which is the "correct" form. I agree it all has to do with the timing of the pilgrimage to what is now The United States, seeing as that happened just prior to disorientated's first accepted use.

    Wonderful thread by the way, I really enjoyed reading it!
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    This is not entirely true, Merriam-Webster defines the verb disorientate as disorient, while disorient is given a full definition; i.e. to cause to lose bearings. Interestingly enough, Merriam-Webster also gives disorient a Circa 1655 stamp, while disorientated gets a Circa 1704 stamp. Not much of a notable difference in the timeline, but there it is.

    I stumbled upon this topic after watching my newly purchased copy of Planet Earth, narrated by the fabulous Mr. David Attenborough. He continually used disorientated, and it became more and more irksome the more I heard it. I finally decided to to some research on-line about the word and it's use, which lead me here.

    It seems to me the two have been in use so long, it's silly to say which is the "correct" form. I agree it all has to do with the timing of the pilgrimage to what is now The United States, seeing as that happened just prior to disorientated's first accepted use.

    Wonderful thread by the way, I really enjoyed reading it!

    Loob's point in her last post was quite correct.

    The Oxford English Dictionary explicitly derives disorientation from disorientate, giving the etymology of disorientation as "n. of action from prec. vb."

    The preceding verb was disorientate, in which entry the past participle and adjective disoriented is shown to be direct derivation of the verb.

    It is in the etymologies of orientate and orientator that the possibility that the process of back-formation is involved is mentioned.

    The etymology given for orientate is:
    < ORIENT n. + -ATE suffix3, perhaps after ORIENTATION n. Compare slightly earlier ORIENTATOR n.

    The etymology given for orientator is:

    < ORIENT v. + -ATOR suffix, after ORIENTATION n. Compare French orienteur (1832). Compare slightly later ORIENTATE v.

    The word "perhaps" indicates that even the editors of the OED are not certain that orientate is the product of a back-formation.

    The only etymology given for disorientate is "DIS- 6." We must assume that this indicates that disorientate comes from dis- prefixed to orientate.

    There is thus no evidence furnished by the OED that disorientate is a back-formation of disorientation.

    I expect that the fact that the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines disorientate in terms of disorient is a function of nothing more than the fact that in American English, disorientate is the rarer form.

    I just found an interesting bit of trivia. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage the word orientate first appeared in 1849, but it was not subject to critical attack until 1945.
     
    Last edited:

    lianafelice

    New Member
    English - American
    I'm sorry, I wasn't very clear in my post. I did not mean that Loob was incorrect, I meant only what was being said wasn't entirely accurate. I was coming at this from the point of view it wasn't the conjugation that was in question, but rather which verb was the correct verb to be conjugating.

    I have a stance I take on questionable words, and this is by no means a very good stance or even one easily supported by anyone other than myself. When looking up a word to see which is the more "correct" form to use, you frequently happen upon a situation such as I cited from Merriam-Webster. If we take irregardless for example, the definition itself is given as regardless (this is a poor example because of the usage note on this one, but it was the first to come to mind). In my mind, since regardless is the very definition of irregardless, the former is the more correct to use. (Aside from the fact that irregardless sounds atrocious, again a poor example.)

    I was simply using that same theory when tracking down the correct version of disorient. The definition of disorientate in Merriam-Webster is disorient, and is given a first use Circa 1848 which is slightly later than disorient leading me (in my mind) to believe disorient to be the more correct of the two. But also as I said earlier, the dates are so close together in the bigger picture, it's nearly impossible to say which is more correct since they have both been in use for roughly the same amount of time. I will continue to prefer disorient, but only because I'm American and that is what is almost exclusively used here in the States.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    In the case of irregardless, Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary explicitly labels it "nonstandard."

    In the case of miniscule, however, there is only the label "variant" and a usage note which mentions that it "now occurs commonly in published writing, but it continues to be widely regarded as an error." The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, prepared under the same usage philosophy and likely with many of the same editors, is explicit in considering miniscule to be a standard variant. (Note that the label variant is explicitly used in M-W dictionaries to refer to all standard versions of a word.)

    What that usage guide says of orientate includes this statement:

    After you have weeded out the ill-considered or uninformed commentary, the criticism comes down to this: orientate is three letters and one syllable longer than orient. That would seem like a rather trivial concern, but the word seems to draw criticism for no better reason than that.

    So again, I come to the conclusion that the fact orientate is defined in terms of orient in the M-W Online Dictionary has nothing to do with a belief on the editors' part that there is something "wrong" with orientate.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    What is wrong with orientate today is what was wrong with it before this thread began. Being aware of both orient and orientate in use, neither being particularly common, I find the version with the extra syllable and the clunky sound gives the impression of being a back formation.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    What is wrong with orientate today is what was wrong with it before this thread began. Being aware of both orient and orientate in use, neither being particularly common, I find the version with the extra syllable and the clunky sound gives the impression of being a back formation.

    "Clunky sound" is entirely subjective, and there is no rational reason to oppose a back-formation--such opposition is a subjective matter at best and a form of the etymological fallacy at worse. An English which existed with only the verb orient would be no more or less an effective medium of communication than would an English which existed with only the verb orientate.

    Of course, if enough people have a given subjective reaction, that will lead to language change. (Consider the case of haycock becoming hay shock in parts of the US, which I mentioned in the 'shack of hay' thread.)
     

    soulsurfer

    New Member
    English - US
    I could be wrong but I think it means something like this (although I couldn't find anything to back me completely up). Dis-ori-ent-ate
    Ori, I think, means rise or maybe 'be enlightened' or see, also used in oracle (although the etymology says oracle comes oro (to pray). But if ori means enlightened, centered, in knowledge, etc, then -ent would be something along 'existing in' or 'the state of being in'. So if you are oriented, you are in knowledge or focus of a certain topic. "This speech is business-oriented" meaning focused on the topic of business. Disoriented, obviously is the opposite (unfocused, etc). "I was disoriented after I hit my head." Orientate means to make focused, enlightened on a subject, etc. In US, it's actually common to have a school orientation before starting a university. (Where -ion obviously makes the verb ending in -ate into a noun) In US, we don't use orientate too much, but it's certainly valid if you are making someone oriented. "I am orientating him on how to run this office." And so someone who was disoriented, was disorientated by something. "The spinning room disorientated him, so he felt disoriented." I hope that makes sense. (By the way, you can't orient someone or disorient them. That would be bad english.) On a side note, you could say "I am disoriented."(adjective) or "I am disorientated."(verb) sort of like "I am awake." and "I am awakened." :)
     
    Last edited:

    kirkie

    New Member
    Afrikaans, English- South Africa
    For South Africans (British colony 1806-1961), where we are used to the British standard of English, (dis)orientate and (dis)orientation is the correct use to describe directional confusion.

    Oriented and disoriented sounds so strange, and make one here think more in terms of the Orient - to align with the Far Eastern way of doing things, and not the direction towards the east.

    It reminds me of the US spelling of color, compared to the UK version colour.

    In SA we have so many languages, that we prefer to rather keep by the standard of the inventors of the English language, and as we learnt it in our upbringing, although we recognise the US spelling and usages, seeing that we come in contact with so many diverse cultures and preferences.
     
    Last edited:

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    << Moderator note.
    This is just a reminder that the topic of the thread is set out clearly at the beginning.
    Please ensure that your posts specifically address the topic and do not introduce tangential issues.
    panjandrum >>
     

    loverofwords

    New Member
    English-American
    Thank you all for such a fascinating discussion. I had no idea when I googled my question of whether there is a difference between disoriented and disorientated, what I would find. I had never heard of the word disorientated (much it sounds like the experience of British English users never hearing of our use of disoriented) until I came across the following sentence in Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, "He stood for a moment disorientated, unsure which of the four glass-panelled doors that opened off the hall was the one through which he was supposed to go." I learned a lot through all these posts!
     

    Sweet Whiskey Mama

    New Member
    Filipino-American English
    I was born and bred in a country speaking American English widely, it having been a US colony for almost a century. I was schooled in Belgian English, which leant heavily towards British English. In adulthood, I came to work for the British Embassy, and I guess it's fair to surmise that the British diplomats are among the best exponents of HM English. I then came to admire the precision of UK English even more. It's not only precise -- it is crisp and succint as well.

    In the Embassy, the UK-based staff uniformly used the word 'orient' only as a noun (and never as a verb) -- to mean East; and it's only other derivative similarly used being the word 'oriental', another noun, meaning Easterner (Asian). 'Orientate' is a verb, THE verb as a matter of fact, to connote familiarity -- to familiarise, introduce, provide one's bearings, etc. Everything else follows from there: orientated, disorientate, disorientated.

    Ergo, as far as I'm concerned, it is precise and confusion-free to use 'orient' only as a noun, and 'orientate' as a root verb. In the same vein, it would be sensible/ logical to use as an adjective the word 'disorientated' when one 'is puzzled', rather than 'disoriented' -- which, I agree, indeed seems to refer to 'somebody being thrown out of the East'.
     

    kubrickrules

    New Member
    English - Canada
    It sure would be nice if, when referring to American English, people could refer to Canadian English as well, as American English isn't the only other English in the world besides UK English. Canadian English is closer to UK English than American English, but I'm pretty sure Canadians do not use "disorientated."
     

    Sweet Whiskey Mama

    New Member
    Filipino-American English
    I think that is preceisely why, in this thread, people are not making any reference to Canadian English. You yourself say that Canadian English has more similarity to UK English, yet you do not use 'disorientated'. That neither makes the British usage of 'disorientated' wrong, nor the non-reference to Canadian English anybody's shortcoming.
     

    kubrickrules

    New Member
    English - Canada
    That wasn't my point. What I meant was, it is strange that when people want to know what the Americans say (when they don't know), they only ask about what Americans say, not paying any attention to what Canadians say, the country of Canada being physically located directly to the north, and part of the same land mass. To make a definitive conclusion on who says what must include Canadian English. One cannot say that Canadian English is of no concern. Canadian uses "disorient" (to the best of my knowledge), but it also uses "colour," "cheque," etc.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Having lived in Canada for three years, I think I can say that Canadian English, while sharing much of its usage with British English, is also heavily influenced by the proximity of the US and could confidently predict that a survey would demonstrate mixed usage between dis/orient and dis/orientate, depending on how much US influence the speaker had absorbed. (One might even expect some sort of residual relationship between usage and distance from the nearest US TV station :D)

    To your other point, I think when people say "American English" they are (for better or worse from the perspective of the other geographically American countries) using the adjective politically not geographically. There are many foreros who identify their English as Indian, Australian, NZ, Canadian etc, as you have, specifically for this purpose.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    We are pleased when speakers of less well-represented varieties of English contribute to our threads.

    Welcome, and thank you. :)
     

    GreyArea

    New Member
    British English (UK)
    Now I'm not sure whether all of the above are adjectives but you get the point. If somebody can point out a verb that ends in a "t" and which is adjectivized by the addition of -ate then I would be interested to hear it.

    I fear your basic premise may be flawed...the verb does NOT end in a "t" because the verb is NOT "Orient", it is "Orientate". "Orient" is a noun referring to "The East". All the adjective is doing is adding a "d". For instance "Annotate" becoming "Annotated"...as far as I'm aware AE speakers do not "Annot", though I have seen use of "Annoted".
     
    Last edited:

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Actually, there is a verb "to orient" in AE, as in "orient the solar panels to receive maximum southern exposure". That's basically the gist of this conversation. :) As far as I know, the OED also recognizes "orient" as a verb as well.
     
    Last edited:

    GreyArea

    New Member
    British English (UK)
    But as you say that is the gist of the argument...is the verb orient or orientate? Your argument is assuming orient is right and then trying to adectivize it...that's specious reasoning!

    If you accept orientation over oriention, why does orientated sound so wrong over oriented?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    But as you say that is the gist of the argument...is the verb orient or orientate? Your argument is assuming orient is right and then trying to adectivize it...that's specious reasoning!

    If you accept orientation over oriention, why does orientated sound so wrong over oriented?

    I think post # 19 in this thread from 2007 (from a BrE speaker, by the way) sums up the situation about as succinctly as it can be
    I'm sure we've had this debate before. Was quite a while ago though I think...anyway, it comes down to;
    Oriented = AE
    Orientated = BE
    That is all. ; P
    One word is used (i.e."correct") in one form of English and the other in the other.
    How
    they came to be different is another story :eek:
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It was only to point out, in passing, that the thread we are participating in is almost as old as this forum, but the main relevance of the citation was the statement of the situation. That's just the way things are in the differences bewteen AE and BE. Any further resurrection of the discussion of the logic or correctness of one or the other does not change the essence of that summary. If anything it is inaccurate only in that it implies orientated is preferred in BE, while it would seem to be more accurate to express it as: it is orientated that is rare in AE but accepted in BE, and oriented is common in both!

    Funny you mention 1945 (arbitrarily or with reason, I wonder?) because it was not until around that time that oriented started to become much preferred over orientated in British English, according to the Ngram viewer from Google's extensive database of printed works - the obvious caveat being uncertainty as to how they assign a work to AE or BE :D
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    But as you say that is the gist of the argument...is the verb orient or orientate? Your argument is assuming orient is right and then trying to adectivize it...that's specious reasoning!

    If you accept orientation over oriention, why does orientated sound so wrong over oriented?

    I think it's a learned reaction, don't you? :) I accept "presentation" and "present", "conversation" and "converse", "augmentation" and "augment". "Orientation" and "orient" look consistent with that pattern to me. "Orientated" sounds as odd to me as "presentated", "conversated" and "augmentated". For all of those I would add only "ed".

    I'm not saying that one is better than the other. I am only explaining the mindset where "orient" and "orientation" does not seem inconsistent.
     

    GreyArea

    New Member
    British English (UK)
    Trying to think of a similar example, and all I can get is comment and commentate but they are substantially different...and the aforementioned annotate.

    Again you refer to "only adding -ed" as if orient is the starting point, but it's not...or rather the roots of either orient or orientate are as much in dispute.

    And I mentioned 1945 because it was already mentionated (! ) in this or another thread.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    The Oxford English Dictionary's etymology of "orientate" says "perhaps after ORIENTATION".
    It further says
    More commonly used in British English than orient, while the latter is the more frequent of the two in American English. Orientate is commonly regarded as an incorrect usage in American English.

    The Ngram Viewer contradicts the OED's statement that orientate is "More commonly used in British English than orient" ,
    although "to orient" is only a little more than twice as frequent as "to orientate" in BE, according to the Viewer.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    The Oxford English Dictionary's etymology of "orientate" says "perhaps after ORIENTATION".
    It further says

    The Ngram Viewer contradicts the OED's statement that orientate is "More commonly used in British English than orient" ,
    although "to orient" is only a little more than twice as frequent as "to orientate" in BE, according to the Viewer.

    That link is to a version of Google's Ngram Viewer which separates the two phrases by a slash, when they should be separated by a comma, as here.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    That link is to a version of Google's Ngram Viewer which separates the two phrases by a slash, when they should be separated by a comma, as here.
    The slash is actually an operator which allows the Ngram ratio to be presented. This can be done separately for GB and US corpora and both plotted on the same graph as here. This shows that the preference for oriented over orientated is much stronger in US than GB. (Subject as always to the imprecision in the database:D)
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    a version of Google's Ngram Viewer which separates the two phrases by a slash
    On the Viewer, if you separate phrases with a comma, you get a separate line on the graph for each one.
    If you separate them with a slash (/), it means "X divided by Y"—in other words the ratio of the first expression to the second one.
     
    Top