Use of Respectively

shirleelarry

New Member
English USA
I submitted a form to a printing company and used the phrase "Respectfully submitted by___________________" intending to sign my name on the line. The proof came back to me with the phrase changed to "Respectively submitted by__________________" and a note stating that their revised phrase was more appropriate for use on my form The form I am having printed is a bid sheet for home repairs. I have never heard "respectively" used in this context. What do you think? Thank you for your advice. Shirlee
 
  • AmethystSW

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I think respectfully makes more sense, although it is a completely different meaning. I haven't heard respectively used that way either, but perhaps it was simply a mistake on their part?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The OED lists several entries under "respectively" with definitions like "respectfully" and "carefully" but describes all of them as obsolete or rare.

    I, like you, would have considered "respectively" wrong and would have said "respectfully" if I had to choose between the two.

    My conclusion is that if "respectfully" does the job there's no reason to go with an obsolete form.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, I was surprised as well.

    In fact, I was all set on posting a reply like yours but decided to double-check in the OED and - lo and behold! - I saw the entries I refer to above.

    I wonder, could the use of "respectively" to mean "respectfully" be more common in British English?
     

    shirleelarry

    New Member
    English USA
    Thank you Amethyst and Elroy. I believe I will not use either word and just say submitted by. I guess after all of the time I devoted to researching the "right and wrong" of the issue, I might choose to leave "respectively" in just to stimulate wonder in others who might have the same questions as the three of us!!

    Thank you again--

    Shirlee
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In current BE, I react as you have done - it is a mistake.
    Most of the relevant OED definitions are labelled obsolete. The other one is rare (common in the 17th century).

    Welcome to these forums, shirlee:)
     

    bartonig

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Tell the printing company that their language is obsolete. If they object, show them the definitions in the Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries.
     
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