Playwright vs playwriter

  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Our word is playwright; I've never heard of "playwriter". (Neither has the spelling checker in my browser, which just marked it as an unknown word.)


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Have a look at the Google ngrams for playwriter: the word seems unknown before 1810, gained popularity between 1870 and 1940 and has since then gone into a decline.

    COHA,* which contains two examples of playwriter, seems to confirm this:
    And this is the story told by the great playwriter, laughing over his wine at Cecil Court. (John Cooke, Her Majesty the Queen, 1873)
    The son was a moral young man, in spite of knowing that terrible dissipated playwriter, who had been living openly with an actress in the city. (Upton Sinclair, Wet Parade, 1931)
    Conclusion: playwriter is archaic or moribund.

    *Corpus of Historical American English


    Senior Member
    British English
    It's important to note that they are not simply spelling variations.

    A "...wright" is a person who does particular tasks, especially involving design and construction, eg a shipwright.
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