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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Is the spelling disruptor or disrupter?

The words disruptor and disrupter are very similar to the words adaptor and adapter. You may even feel it is easy to then guess which is the primary spelling.

The Australian Oxford Dictionary and the Macquarie Oxford Dictionary both agree the primary spelling is disrupter and the secondary spelling is disruptor. The opposite of adaptor and adapter.
If you check the overseas online English dictionaries including the British Oxford and US Merriam Webster, both agree the spelling disrupter is the primary spelling.

If however we check the usage in Australia for sites ending in .au using Google, we see the overwhelming usage is disruptor, with a ratio of 8:1 to disrupter. Checking government sites ending in has a ratio of disruptor to disrupter as 3:1.

Far more people use the secondary spelling in Australia compared to those using the primary spelling. This also appears to be true in the UK. Microsoft Office is no help as both spelling variations are considered correct.

At this stage, all I can suggest is to stick to the primary spelling suggested by the authoritative references, which in this case is disrupter. If anyone challenges you, at least you can refer them to the authoritative references. But do keep an eye on this one as the primary spelling may change in the future.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Is the spelling adaptor or adapter?

If we check the online British Oxford Dictionary, we’ll see the spelling as adapter, with adaptor listed as a secondary spelling. Because there’s no free online Australian dictionary complete with descriptions, Australians often refer to overseas dictionaries such as the British Oxford Dictionary, Wikitionary, Collins, or the Merriam Webster. Unfortunately, the overseas English dictionaries can lead Australians to use the wrong spelling, or a secondary spelling of a word. Using word-processing software such as Microsoft Office also doesn’t help the writer, as Microsoft Office includes thousands of secondary spelling variations, leaving it up to the writer to decide their primary spelling.

If we check the Macquarie Dictionary and the Australian Oxford dictionary, adaptor is the primary spelling and adapter is listed as a secondary spelling.

Even though both Australian authoritative references agree on the primary spelling, actual usage as shown by searching Google for sites ending in .au shows a fairly close usage of both spelling variations. For “double adaptor” versus “double adapter”, the search results are 15,000 and 11,800 respectively. Certainly not as clear a margin as you’d expect. For other searches the results can flip.

The US dictionary the Merriam Webster, states for the adapter entry, “less commonly adaptor”. It is possible, with so much American technology influencing our lives, the American spelling may be having a significant impact on Australian spelling.

For the moment, adaptor can be considered the primary spelling based on the Australian authoritative references, however, don’t be surprised if this changes in the future.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English Spelling.