This is part of the difference between series.

Recently, someone asked me to explain difference between the words oriented and orientated. Here’s the difference between the two.

Actually, there is no difference.

Some people like to insist that orientate isn’t a real word, and that we should always use orient. In a way, they’re right. Orient is the older of the two, being around for nearly 300 years. That being said, orientate isn’t that new, having been around for nearly 200 years. The earliest occurrence I could find was from 1849 in The Ecclesiologist, Volume 9, p. 235:

The bishop and priest being in the apse behind the altar would have been in a great measure cut off from the Liturgy, if the altar had not been made to orientate differently from the church. The natural way, considering their locality, was to orientate the altar so that the celebrant should stand with his back to them.

But, really, orient and orientate, as verbs, are synonymous. However, orientate, for what it’s worth, is more common in British English than in American English.

Which words do you confuse? Let me know in the comments below.

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About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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