It’s “Oriented” not “Orientated”

I’ve got this little pet peeve: When people say “Orientated” I want to tell them that they are stupid.

Orientated isn’t a word. It’s a term that differentiates the Sergeants in the Army from the Officers (learned that at Officer Basic at Fort Knox, KY from a Westpoint grad).

Orientated is a term that people without a college education use in place of the verb orient

Orientated is a term my boss uses.

How do I tell him that it’s not a real word?

updated on 9/20/2011: just want to give a shout out to the NCOs out there… by no means do I disrespect you guys. you are the guys that make the Army work. My comment above that I “learned that at Officer Basic” really kind of shows how my teacher at OBC wanted to drive home that orientated isn’t a word I should be using, not my feelings about NCOs at all. Don’t get offended by this post please, as it’s just something I wrote

192 Responses to “It’s “Oriented” not “Orientated””


  • I just have to say one thing, if noone deviates from the origin, then everything would be pretty boring, and you lot who have commented would have been sitting there twiddling your thumbs.
    Change aint always a bad thing, it may produce the modern day Shakespeare perhaps.

    Orientated sounds way better than Oriented. Oriented sounds unfinished.

    • @Rob:

      Orientated does not sound better…it sounds wrong. Every time I hear it, it sounds wrong. I agree with deviation, but when it comes to language arts…it sounds stupid. Unless you’re making a rap album, and have to make it ryme.

    • Rob-
      I have a theory. If a student is having trouble making 1+1=2, we should teach them…not change the rules to make 1+1=3. It’s the same with grammar. Don’t add a word like “orientated” into the dictionary, just because a bunch of kids who slept through English class don’t know that it is incorrect. Changing the rules simply encourages the lazy.

    • It does not sound better, it is very annoying to hear someone use a “word” that does not exist. You should also learn how to spell – noone is actually no-one & aint is ain’t which is also not really a word!

    • Just read an interesting history of both words, which indicates that both are legitimate derivatives from the French root…orient was introduced in English around 18th century and orientated came somewhere in the 19th century. The shorter version gained ground in the US while the longer version appealed more to British speakers.

      Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether a word “sounds” right, since people tend to judge what sounds correct based on what they are used to, ie. what they grew up surrounded by, etc. To judge someone as uneducated because of their choice of words is natural, but not always accurate…just as judging by appearance doesn’t always lead to the correct assumption!

    • No one is two words… :-)

    • The only thing unfinished is your education. Perhaps your entire understanding of English should be questioned.

    • Dear Army Officer,
      I spent 8 years in First Force Recon (Marine Corps) and one of the many lessons that I learned was that my fellow NCO’s (I have a BS from Davidson College) possessed a far greater level on common sense than nearly every officer that we encountered. Additionally, that level of arrogance/ignorance possessed by the officers with that school of thought (that enlisted are ignorant or stupid) were typically the ones that could not navigate or shoot their way out of a wet paper bag.
      You are correct about oriented, but with your level of arrogance, you sound more ignorant than those with any education.

      Make it a great day!

    • What is wrong with you? It does not sound better. It sounds awkward and uneducated, then again, you probably are too.

    • I hardly ever use oriented since, to me, it sounds like I’ve been learning to adapt to Orientals (Asians)when I use that word. I’ve always used orientated for that very reason. So, I stand corrected and will try and redirect my brain into thinking oriented instead. Thanks for the english lesson.

      Even though ain’t is in the dictionary, it is still a stupid word – that one really is a lazy cop-out.

      Ever wonder why so many people use the word irregardless? Isn’t that redundant? Makes my skin crawl when I hear it. Also, what’s up with grammar and reversal in common respect for the other person coming first ie., me and Bob or me and that teacher. I was always taught that the person who is speaking comes last ie., My brother and I or Bob and I went to the movie.
      There are soooo many wrong and twisted words and sentences in the English language it’s hard to keep up with them. My own personal problem is figuring out where and when to place commas. I guess I slept through that part of English class.

    • “ROb”?
      I hope that typo was in jest.

      The word is “Oriented” it is not “Orientated” you are making yourself appear as stupid as I’m presuming you really are. Now go ahead and list your credentials like I care.

      The confusion stems from the word “Orientation” something I’m sure plenty of those using the word “Orientated” have undergone in their lives.
      “Welcome to Orientation Day kids. This is the grill…”

    • It’s oriented. The other thing that really bugs me is the misuse of the word myself. I hate it when people say myself and Bob and Gene will do it. Myself means alone I will do it myself., and it’s Bob, Gene and I will do it not myself and Bob and Gene. Irk, irk, irk

  • Orientated is very painful to hear. Under Rob’s logic;

    Will a1 b writiting leik these 1 dai.

    A dark future indeed.

  • I don’t know, but when you figure out how to tell him let me know. My boss does the same and it drives me crazy!

  • Orientated is the more common form in British English, i.e. Actual English, and is acknowledged as being perfectly valid. Next you’ll be trying to convince us it’s really O.K to pronounce ‘aluminium’ as if you’ve had a stroke half way through the word.

    • I came here to say this and since when is the American way of doing things the correct way? Perhaps thats an argument for another time.

    • This is simply an appeal to popular opinion and it doesn’t justify grammatical errors.

      “Orientated” is a lazy ‘backronym,’ and it doesn’t matter how many uneducated Brits are unaware of this fact.

    • When I went to school in England the word was oriented, those that defied the school and used any other form were taught how to use it by repeating it many times over on paper and producing the paper for the Head Master the following day.

    • ORIENTATED is only used in England by numbskull Geordies and Cockney’s. You will NOT, I repeat will NOT find an educated (I didn’t say rich)Englishman use the word “orientated”.

  • Orientated is a British usage and just fine. Actually, I have been orientated around a certain woman at work for years and didn’t realize it until recently.

  • orientated is for people who can’t say oriented with slurring.

  • They are both perfectly fine. The shorter version came into being in the 18C and the longer version in the 19C. I use them interchangably depending on the flow of the sentence (and if I’m writing to Americans!).

  • Disorientated is less arguable and much more annoying

  • Let’s hear it for the purists! “Orientated” means facing the east or the Orient. Some dummy looked at “orientation” and decided the root word was “orientate.” So some of you would think we should use “inhalate” when we are breathing in, since “inhalation” is the noun version?????

    I hate to see the country’s communication skills going down the tubes. My parents corrected my grammar from childhood, and we all take pride in correct grammar and spelling.

  • Orientated does not mean to face the east at all. It means the same as oriented. Both words are equally valid – it is merely a matter of personal preference and what you are used to hearing.

    The assumption that the British way of spelling or pronounciation is automatically correct – or original is also wrong, US spelling and pronounciation is equally valid, and sometimes pre-dates the British version (as in the case of Aluminium/Aluminum).

    The idea that the way a word is spelled originally, or earliest, is more correct than a later version is also flawed because language – particularly the English language – is fluid and adapts.

    Chill out and enjoy the variety! :-)

    • Leah-

      Your claim that the U.S. spelling of aluminium/aluminum is the original completely shook me. As an aussie I use aluminium (which has always bugged me) as opposed to aluminum (equally as annoying). So I looked it up!

      Did you know the original spelling was going to be Alumium? (I like this spelling best). Coined by Humphry Davy, a British chemist in 1808. He himself changed the spelling to aluminum, and the spelling was changed to aluminium by an anonymous reviewer for “classical aesthetic” reasons. A perfect example in favour of allowing the public to evolve words to suit a new linguistic climate, I should think, UK spelling/purist proponents out there? I’m constantly correcting the spelling and grammar of my friends, and constantly being reminded by my linguistic major buddies that as long as the intention of the speaker is carried, I should sit back, relax and go with the flow.

      But I’ll stick to aluminium all the same. ;P

  • Sorry, but orientated IS a word. A retarded word, I admit, and only used by people of poor edumacation and diction.

    My heart pounds fiercely when I hear it, but it IS a correct word, an being orientated correctly is perfect English.

    It is however, horrible English, and shouldn’t ever be used where “oriented” will work.

  • If you look in the Webster’s dictionary you will see that orientated is a correct English word, however, American’s don’t use correct English. As an example night – nite. Night is the correct English spelling in the Webster’s dictionary. Not everything that is American is correct!

    • Lorraine, I don’t believe Americans use Nite as a “proper” word…
      They use it in chat situations, but not in official documents and such… A better example of this would be Colour/Color.

      As an Australian, I speak UK English, and can’t say for sure that Americans *don’t* use nite in official situations, but I have never read that “version” of the word in any American novels…

    • Unless it is in the context of “T’was the nite before Christmas …”.

    • I live in the US and have never seen anyone use ‘nite’. As for Color, we use that everywhere. Also, Colour comes from Color, for Color is the original Latin spelling.

    • What IS correct is not to use apostrophes when a word is not in possession of anything!! It’s “Americans” NOT “American’s” in this case. And many of us use correct English (American English, that is), thank you very much.

  • My boss and I have a little game we play where I agree not to use words that are abstruse and esoteric in meetings in exchange for him not using business “buzz words”.

    For example, I stopped using “bailiwick” and “Daedalian” in exchange for him not using “architect” as a verb, e.g., “We will architect a new system.”

    Admittedly, we have a rather jocular relationship, so we have no trouble calling each other out on issues like these.

  • Yeah I found myself unable to decide which it was (I’m only sixteen so give me some slack). I said orientated, which sounded wrong, but I assumed it was right because of the word “orientation”. Good to find out the truth before I said it in public. I already correct my friends on who/whom and good/well so I think I’ll just let it slide when they say “orientated” for now.

    • people who use orientated it has been my experience that they did not seem to be very articulate overall.

  • i was brought up on oriented, and it seems whenever someone says orientated, it is spoken by a person of questionable articulation.

  • I will stick to the standard British version which I have always been taught is orientated. Stick the Americanisms and versions up your ‘ass’.

    • Here’s the thing. It isn’t an ‘Americanism.’ It existed long before the incorrect version you insist upon using.

      You should stick “orientated” up your own arse seeing as how that is where that word was pulled from in the first place.

    • Your teaching has been very questionable. I have a British education and it was always oriented, unless you were a “naff”.

  • It’s actually a real word, means the same thing, has been used in poetry, literature, etc. That being said, I hate it too. It’s just not an efficient use of language when oriented will do.

  • In my experience “orientated” is correct British English. We’re not too keen on oriented and wouldn’t use it to each other. Having said that, if an American were to say or write “oriented” to me I’d know what they meant. I wouldn’t expect them to put a “u” in colour, honour or favour for me either, even though that’s what we do here and I’d expect my British “u” to be accepted by Americans in return! Tom-ay-toe/tom-aa-toe!

  • If we keep letting it slide it will be orientaciated within a few years.

  • I believe it should be oriented…and I HATE it when people say orientated….however….both are considered correct…darn it!:\

  • http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orientated?show=0&t=1312563304

    Fucking dumb bitch. It’s sad this stupid fucking page is even ranked by Google. Are you on your period? Is that why you felt the need to post about this WORD?

    • I think that regardless of whichever one you use, we can all agree that that last guy (Derp) was a giant douche.

    • Wow… I mean really… just wow… You can’t manage to get your point across without cussing??? AND lowering yourself to saying something as ridiculous as “on your period”??? Perhaps you should save what little brain power you seem to have for something just a little more important, like, say – your job? Or perhaps you’re not quite intelligent enough to have one of those…

    • Well it’s rather entertaining how some of you guys (and gals) get off on that! I used “oriented” when I resided in the US as well as when I called (British English speaking) Cyprus home. Now, back in Austria, the native language is German, actually, a dialect thereof. And here, it is “orientiert”. That’s it, no other version, not even in “Austrian”! Live is good! Oh, by the way: George W. Bush used to say “nucular weapons”. Now, is this British, American or just plain stupid????

  • Both words are correct and can be used to suit the situation. Do some real research and discover the facts. Just look at all the words that Americans have distorted from the origonal English, most of which were from the French etc anyway! Look at the number f words the US has depleted of the letter ‘U’. Then have a listen to the likes of George Bush fumbling through words and distorting the pronunciation completely to realise just how much words can be altered over time. Then extend that to various local dialects in the US or the UK. Nay sayers get over yourselves!!

    • http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ori1.htm
      We have a minor oddity here, in that both orient and orientate come from the same French verb, orienter, but were introduced at different times, the shorter one in the eighteenth century and the longer in the middle of the nineteenth. There’s been a quiet war going on between the two of them ever since. I tend to use oriented and orientated pretty indiscriminately myself, choosing the shorter one when it seems to fit the flow of the sentence. Robert Burchfield, in the Third Edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage, says “one can have no fundamental quarrel with anyone who decides to use the longer of the two words”. But all this is a British view, since here orientated is common; in the US it is less so and considered much less a part of the standard language. So, as always, it’s as much a case of who you are writing for and where you are doing so.

  • This is the stupidest blog I have ever seen. You all need to be orientated in the art of having meaningful conversation.

  • Orientated IS a word. More popular in real English, rather than your made up “American English”.

  • Hmm. its either or. I guess it just boils down to what is popular usage. I prefer to use Orientated. Like someone else said, it sounds compleated. Oriented seems lacking. PLUS, oriented is the more recent way of pronouncing it, which means…it is Derived from an EARLIER, proper pronunciation. I guess, here in America we really dont like anything Correct, we like it short and sweet. Hey I know, why dont we all just start saying “Orntd” we can save all that exerted phsycial energy, and not use any of those scary vowels and extra sylables. Or maybe we can find a way to say it in ebonics, and then NO ONE will feel left out. …While we are at it, why dont we just STOP calling what we speak in America the “English language”…since it is no longer english.

    • That word is as annoying to hear as conversate.. I hate to hear it.. Oriented & Converse.. Please people let’s get it together now.. Languages shouldn’t change due to popular usage, otherwise “ain’t” should be considered a real word too. No? Create new words, fine.. but don’t change the spelling of existing words at random because they roll off the tongue easier. The English language has enough antonyms, synonyms & homonyms as it is.. No point in complicating it any further by lengthening or shortening existing vocabulary words. That’s what we have abbreviation for. In writing pick a style as not to confuse your readers. In speech, use proper English as to not sound uneducated. Unless you’re speaking in general conversation amongst friends you should always be mindful of your grammar as well as pronunciation. Please forgive my punctuation.. or lack of. Thank u;)

    • Perhaps when you get yourself all worked up you should use your spell check (American version, since you mentioned you’re here) before you hit “Submit.”

  • This was bothering me slightly, so I dug out the Oxford dictionary I’ve had for years (10 or so) now.

    Interestingly, it lists “Oriented” as the initial usage, followed by “(also BrE Orientated)”, but if you look at its antonym, it lists “Disorientated” first and then “(also disoriented, AmE, BrE)”.

    Bottom line: both are fine, including in antonym.

  • Until today, when I spoke to an American who questioned my use of the word disorientated, I had never heard of the word oriented. Orientated is the form used in England.

    To me, oriented sounds… well, vulgar and uneducated. It’s just another BE/AE difference.

    It’s very uneducated and typically ignorant of you to claim (with obviously no research) that orientated isn’t a word. Or that I have no college education because I use it. I do. In fact, I’m very well educated. More educated than you I would assume.

    It seems to me as if you’re a bit of a jeb end.

  • Just editing the audio commentary for a youtube video. I came across myself using Orientated – i was in a quandary if i was going to sound stupid, glad to know – that I was 50% correct. – keeping it as orientated, i feel it flows better.

  • What grinds the most is when a person says orientated when reading directly from a text (e.g. book title) where it is clearly written as oriented.

    I attended a training course where all the power point pages had oriented and the presenter consistently said orientated.

    My immediate gut reaction is can’t your read !

  • Your example reminds me of the 1980 presidential debate between Carter and Reagan. Carter dropped the ‘l’ in nuclear so that it came out as ‘NU-key-er’, which is the way some Southerners pronounce it.

  • I prefer orient and oriented. Both are in standard dictionaries but American style guides prefer the former. In the UK, the English (ahem) use them interchangeably.

  • Wow, always used oriented. Orientated just doesn’t sound right to my ears. Now I’m just ‘disco-bobyou-latated’

  • Too funny. We’ve become so nationalistic.
    Living in the states as an undocumented Canadian, there were many times I learned new words, to “fit in.”
    Orientated and mischievious were the worst I had to spit out.

    Just because a person learns English in Britain, doesn’t mean they speak correctly.

    However, the usage of “I,” and “Me,” in the States….YIKES!!!
    Lets not forget, Pres Bush once said, “It’s too bad the French don’t have a word for Entreprenuer!”

    • No one speaks ‘correctly’. That is a value judgement. Following your assertion (Just because a person learns English in Britain, doesn’t mean they speak correctly) what say you of ‘to go’, ‘takeout’ and ‘takeaway’? We now use all three in the UK. I once embarrassed my friends in McDonalds when I was first asked if I wanted “to go large” on that by replying indignantly “I beg your pardon?”.

      On that basis, the word ‘takeaway’ would be wrong for American-English, and ‘to go’ would be wrong for British English. Going large wouldn’t exist at all as there are many other ways to suggest a larger portion (ooh look! I just showed you one!).

      May I suggest that you don’t take language too seriously lest you take all the fun out of it?

    • Sorry, but I forgot a second thought that I wanted to add to my message below. Regarding the French word for entrepreneur, I heard something even funnier. A governor of Texas (allegedly) once said: “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!” (No attribution) Probably not true, but it always makes me smile.

  • I’ve done some word engineering and combined ‘travesty’ and ‘tragedy’ to create a new word… ‘TRAGESTY’

    Tragesty is a noun meaning a false catastrophe or parody disaster. An example would be if someone sarcastically said, “I’m not looking forward to going to the Playboy Mansion, but I guess I’ll take this one for the team.” I would reply with, “Oh yeah, that’s such a tragesty.”

  • “Orientated” is British English and is used almost exclusively in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Whereas “oriented” is used nearly exclusively in the US.

  • I have to say this is rather silly. A cursory glance at British-English and American-English dictionaries likely yields the word orientate. The spell check here doesn’t ‘red-line’ it. Here is what the Oxford online dictionary lists:

    orientate

    Pronunciation: /ˈɔːrɪənteɪt, ˈɒr-/
    verb
    another term for orient

    Origin: mid 19th century: probably a back-formation from orientation

    Once a word becomes a word – it’s a word!

  • The problem with words like “orientate”, “preventative”, “interpretate” and “presentate” (yes, I’ve heard it said) is that they are lazy back formations of their noun forms ending in “-tion”. If this trend continues, do not be surprised to see words like “preemptative”, “inventate” and “correctate” in the future. I know English is dynamic and new words are always being added to the lexicon, especially in the field of IT. But accepting (or is that “acceptating”?) every new form of word that comes along just because it is in popular usage, regardless (or is that “irregardless”?) of its correctness, is just plain wrong.

  • Some of you mention “my linguist friend said….”. Most of your linguist friends seemed to be of the opinion that clear communication is the goal. Well, I am one of those “friends”. I agree with them too.
    None of you own the English language. None of you have a perfect knowledge of it. The language is not what is was 500 years ago and it won’t be what it is now in 500 years. Does your skin really “crawl” when someone makes a mistake with grammar? While maybe I can’t question your education – I do question your character.

  • In my opinion, any preference in pronunciation is not specific to where you reside on the planet. I live in the United States and hear both versions used equally, and the level of education is NOT a factor. My wife is a product of the UK school system and has never used “orientated.” Pronouncing jaguar with a long “u” is the one that throws me off a bit. And yes, I know it’s in the dictionary both ways.

  • Oh my word.
    How arrogant are the people of the United States of America.
    They don’t spell colour correctly, but want to tell the British, South Africans, Zambians, Zimbabweans, Australians and all other Previous British colonies to use an older form of a word. Why, sorry probably to modern for your understanding, How come can’t you adapt to the nineteenth century, but expect us in the twenty first (one and twentieth in the old English)to adapt back to ancient language?
    By the way if grammar is so important find a single way to pronounce “interesting”. I’ve heard in US movies with a silent ‘t’ or a silent ‘e’.
    Good luck

  • Wow. Who cares? Welcome to the world of language. It changes because people start using “improper” speech.

  • For many years now the TESOL community and related academia have considered the correct term ‘Englishes’ and not ‘English’, ipso facto there must, by definition, be differences. Languages develop organically as common usage adapts them. Why do you expect a variant dialect to conform to yours? Individual users cannot lay claim to the variant they use, let alone another, distantly used one.

  • Do some research before you get bent out of shape. Oriented and orientated are both legitimate and acceptable words in the English language. Oriented is more commonly used in the U.S., orientated more in the EU.

  • And rock on to those pointing out the evolution of language.

  • Honestly, I believe it has to do with the region that a person lives. I’m an American & always have used “orient” while believing that those who used otherwise were wrong. However, I lived in New Zealand for several months, and not a single person used “oriented” but rather “orientated.” As long as people understand the meaning you’re trying to convey, then it works. After all, language was created so we could have shared meaning, right?

  • Just the fact that “orientated” came about later (mid. 1900s) proves that it is OK to make up your own vocabulary. We seem to have no standards anymore! I can’t imagine what the english language will sound like in another century! It is “oriented” and I feel that anyone using “orientated” is only trying to sound more educated which sounds irritating in my opinion. I guess if you use what you were taught and I am glad that I was taught the original use of the word!

    • … So you imagine that your version of English was always the correct, spoken version? Do you honestly think that is a realistic assertion? What’s more, whilst holding the belief that ‘orientated’ is not correct, you write English without a capital ‘E’!

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