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Which is preferred?

I've always thought that vendor was the only spelling. The question was brought up by a typo, which the Word spellchecker did not correct.

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The spelling vendor is the standard spelling. The New Yorker, as part of its bizarre house style, uses the spelling vender. No one else does, besides those trying to emulate The New Yorker’s style.

Of the 45 examples in COCA, only 17 were actual uses of the spelling vender outside of The New Yorker (compared with over 2000 examples of vendor, a ratio of over 100 to 1). Two were proper names, eleven were from The New Yorker, and fifteen were in foreign languages.

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That's New Yoikers for you –  mgb Jun 2 '11 at 4:03
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These two words mean the same thing but actually have different etymologies:

Vendor 1585–95; < Anglo-French vendo ( u ) r < Latin venditor.

Vender Origin: 1590–1600; vend + -er The word vend coming from:< Latin vendere to sell, contraction of vēnum (or vēnō ) dare to offer for sale;

"Vendor" is preferred, but there is nothing wrong with "vender"

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This is perhaps the definitive answer: scientific data from Google Ngrams

Google NGram

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I would submit that, as with normal "er" and "or" use (used for person and thing, respectively), the following use could make sense: vender is the person, the seller; vendor is the institution, the business, the shop. Don't know, just applying logic to it all...

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I can only think of cases where the -er and -or versions are alternative spellings (as in jailer and jailor) or refer to entirely different concepts (like senser and sensor). Can you provide examples to back up your theory of agent/agency? –  choster Jan 13 at 22:36
    
@choster Going through a British word list, I find the following pairs: abetter adjuster adviser better canter caster censer compacter conjurer conveyer correcter directer doer fer imposter jailer kroner lesser miner mortgager prier protester resister tenser vender (with their -or counterpart). Going through this list, I concur: either they are different words altogether or they are variant spellings unrelated to the meaning. I see no person/thing distinction. –  Gilles Jan 14 at 1:19
    
Be careful applying logic to language. –  Michael Owen Sartin Jan 14 at 1:28
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