founder member vs charter member

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sterrenzio, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. sterrenzio

    sterrenzio Senior Member

    Hi there,
    I was wondering whether there is any difference between the expressions founder member and charter member. Supposing I am referring to the partners that founded, that is, that gave life to a company (in my case a small, limited responsibility company), which one would be more appropriate and, most of all, acceptable to both BE and AE speakers?
    Thank you :)
  2. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Oxnard, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I would expect to see "founding member," but would certainly understand "charter member" as well.

    Also, (I went to Wikipedia to double-check) "responsabilità" and "responsibility" are false friends in this context: the English name for that kind of organization is "limited liability company."
  3. sterrenzio

    sterrenzio Senior Member

    Thank you xqby!
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I've heard these terms only in relation to membership organizations, and for me, too, the first would be founding member, or founder, rather than "founder member".

    Dictionaries say that the terms "founding member" and "charter member" are interchangeable, but in my experience, they've been used slightly differently: founding member, to mean one of those who first had the idea of forming the organization; charter member, to mean one of whose who immediately signed on when the existence of the organization was announced.

    Thus, a founding member would be one of the charter members, but a charter member would not necessarily be one of the founders.
  5. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Google founder member and you will see it used in many places.
  6. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    The BNC/COCA search results suggest there is a difference in preference between BE and AmE, but that 'founding member' is at least fairly common in both varieties:

    founding member/members 65
    founder member/members 210

    founding member/members 478
    founder member/members 4
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are three quite distinct topics here.

    Founder member - means someone who was a member of an organisation when it began.

    Charter member - means something to some people, but means nothing to me.

    Limited responsibility company ... I assume to be the same as a UK limited liability company. I'm one of those. I have founder members. They are the people who had a stake in my company when it began.

    I have no charter members ... see above, I don't know what these are.
  8. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Must be from this side of the pond only. Here it is straight from Wikipedia:
    A charter member of an organization is an original member; that is, one who became a member when the organization received its charter.

    Notice the spelling is obviously AE, so my guess is it was entered by an American. I can attest to the fact it is a commonly used term. I never cease to learn the differences between our AE and the queen's.
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    "... when the organization received its charter"
    Ah, well, if an organization has formally received a charter, I can understand the term "charter member".

    Limited liability companies in the UK do not have a charter.
  10. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    If you are referring to the z in the word organization, you would not always win a bet that it was written by an AE speaker! I know quite a few BrE speakers who follow the OED's recommendation and use the Greek rather than French spelling of the suffix -ize :D

    Do all institutions/companies that have "charter members" actually have charters?

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