Is orientate a word and if so how is it different than orient? I found this definition of it says "Generally considered an error in American English." does this mean it is not wrong for British English?

I'm not sure if there's a right or wrong answer to this, but is it incorrect to use British English in North America? For example is it flat out poor English if a British man was giving a speech and referred to the "boot of the car" or is somehow more right since he is British?

  • 1
    Do you mean "how is it different to orient"?
    – JessWelch
    Feb 22, 2014 at 8:07
  • I wasn't ridiculed for speaking Ame in the UK; The converse holds true as well. Feb 22, 2014 at 8:12

2 Answers 2


According to the OED, orientate is a word, meaning much the same thing as the verb orient.

Like you mention, however, there is also an etymology note there that says the following:

More commonly used in British English than orient, while the latter is the more frequent of the two in American English. Orientate is commonly regarded as an incorrect usage in American English.

I'm a well-educated native speaker of American English and my first impulse when reading this question was "No, it's not a word, orient is the word you want." My guess is that few Americans have heard of orientate, so if you use it in their company you will likely sound like you're making an error, and could be subject to correction. Of course, you could prove them wrong by citing an authoritative reference, but you know what they say... when in Rome...


Oxford Dictionaries give 'orientate' as 'another term for orient'. Both are used in Britain.

But this is a bit like 'connotate/connote' which came up in discussion elsewhere on the site yesterday. When a noun form such as 'orientation' becomes more frequently used, and hence better known, than the verb from which it springs, namely 'orient', then often people will infer the nounal spelling back to the verb, hence 'connotate' (after 'connotation'). The original verb was 'connote'.

As far as British or American English is concerned from what I read in another answer 'orientate' is a British mistake, 'connotate' an American. So these funnies would appear to go in both directions.

I have yet to come across a 'repetitate' for 'repeat' but I don't rule out that it has been used!

  • Well, we're already hearing people say "conversate" instead of converse...
    – Louel
    Feb 22, 2014 at 8:53
  • In the UK, I've only heard the word orientate. If orient is used in this context at all, it is very rare.
    – Tristan r
    Feb 22, 2014 at 13:46
  • @Tristanr Personally I would use 'orient'. 'His youngest son is an athlete and not at all academically oriented'.
    – WS2
    Feb 22, 2014 at 20:58
  • WS2, that's very strange and rare.
    – Tristan r
    Feb 22, 2014 at 22:08
  • @Tristanr Then I would suggest you look in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are plenty of modern examples of its use, perhaps more than there are of "orientate".
    – WS2
    Jan 12, 2021 at 21:35

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