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As a non-native speaker I am having some trouble distinguishing between the two words "merge" and "merger". To me, it sounds like "merger" describes a major event, often occurring between legal entities such as companies, countries, pieces of industry,... In computer science, I have more often seen merge used as a noun, e.g. if in a version control system two branches are merged, the result is called a merge. The process while it is occurring is also called a merge.

Are the two terms interchangeable, or are there clear distinctions in usage (in general practice)?

  • Merge is to combine or join. Merger is the act of merging or the state of being merged. – skullpatrol Oct 25 '13 at 7:53
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In everyday use, merge is not used as a noun. You can see this in the following Google ngrams

Merge (verb), Merger (noun), Merge (noun) Google ngram

Oxford dictionaries, Merriam Webster and dictionary.com have yet to record it as a noun, if they ever will. As far as I'm aware merge is only used as a noun in the context of source control.

However, as Barrie points out, the OED does list merge as a noun that means

an act or instance of merging; a merger.

So it seems that merge is used in this way outside of source control.

I have also found 1 hit in COCA for merge as a noun, although that looks like a mistake. I couldn't find any hits at the BNC.

I think if you use merge to mean merger, outside of source control, you will be understood, but it isn't widely done.

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    The online OED has an entry for merge as a noun, defining it as ‘an act or instance of merging; a merger.’ There are supporting citations from 1806, 1905, 1935 and 1989. – Barrie England Oct 25 '13 at 8:09
  • I guess the usage of merge as noun in the source control context has made it seem more natural to me than it should. I'll shy away from it in writing then. – wds Oct 25 '13 at 8:42
  • @wds I've updated my answer – Matt E. Эллен Oct 25 '13 at 9:14
  • The OED is wrong :) There is one place that "Merge" is commonly used as a noun: in computer programming. If you have two pieces of code, and you merge them, the result is spoken of as "a merge" by programmers. So, you could refer to some speficic file (say) as a "merge" (noun). Thus for example "Don't use that file, use this merge here - no wait, use the merge me and Steve made." – Fattie Oct 25 '13 at 9:23
  • @wds Just to make sure we're all on the same page here, it is perfectly fine to use merge in writing if what you are writing about is source control. In fact using merger instead would be plain wrong. – RegDwigнt Oct 25 '13 at 10:51

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