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Savor or saver (cf. lifesaver) both seem more plausible. Why is there an i before the -or ending?

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"More plausible"? Why? What's the context? –  Tom Anderson Aug 29 '11 at 21:41
    
-er and -or are the standard endings in this formation. –  Daniel Aug 29 '11 at 21:43
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Ah, I see! The question is why one who saves files or money is a saver, but one who saves souls if a saviour. Good question. –  Tom Anderson Aug 29 '11 at 21:54

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the history of the word's form is as follows:

Forms: ME sauveur, ME sauveour, ME saveour(e, ME sauveor, saveor, saviur, savour, safeoure, Sc. safare, saweoure, ME, 15 sauvour, savioure, ME–15 savyour(e, ME savyowur, ME–15 savyor, 15 salveour, salviour, Sc. salvior, salweour, ME, 15–17 (18 chiefly U.S.) savior, ME– saviour.(Show Less)

Etymology: < Old French sauveour (modern French sauveur) = Provençal salvador, Spanish salvador, Portuguese salvador, Italian salvatore < late Latin salvātōr-em, agent-n. < salvāre to save v.

The English form has changed (including being savour for a time), but from the history you can see that the vast majority of forms have had i or e or even y to maintain the pronunciation. This is because the word comes from the Old French sauveour, so English spelling has maintained much of its root.

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