There seems to be two different ways to spell "expediter":

A quick Google search reveals a nearly equal split between the two spellings. Are the two spellings specific to a particular region or culture? Is there some subtle difference in meaning that I am not aware of?

Why do we have two different spellings?

  • More generally, we sometimes use the -or suffix instead of -er, but I'm not sure whether there's actually a rule for it, or why some words favor one or the other or both. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 5:43

3 Answers 3



A person who expedites.

On the other hand,

An expeditor is someone who facilitates a process. It is a position or role found within project management, construction, purchasing and production control. An Expeditor may be mostly related to a Supply Chain related business. An expeditor's role is primarily to look at the requirement levels in the business and fulfill the demands by either rescheduling in or rescheduling out the delivery date on the Purchase Order. The expeditor is also responsible for making sure there is no line stopping situation for a business. The key metrics which an expeditor influences may be - Ontime Delivery, Cash Flow Cycle and Inventory Management. An expeditor needs to be assertive and needs to know the business at high contextual levels1

We can see the usage difference from the WP article on Expediting.
The -er suffix is used for the generic noun derivative of 'performer of the action' of expedite as usual: expediter:

To save these unnecessary costs and minimize potential risks, the supplier and customer may agree on the use of a third party expediter.

The -or suffix is used for the specific office/designation assigned with the duties of expediting in the specific business context:

… the expeditor makes sure that the required goods arrive at the appointed date in the agreed quality at the agreed location.

  • 1
    Not everyone may be aware or conscious of the difference when writing, though. As such, interchangeable use may be found widely in practice.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 6:15
  • Collins, M-W, and Wikipedia, at least, class them as mere spelling variants. Commented Feb 8 at 13:56


-or is the (masculine) agent-noun suffix from Latin, and survives primarily in the conjugation of words which were borrowed directly from Latin.

-er does the same thing, and is usually used for words that aren't obviously from Latin, and for novel words.

-tress and -trix (the feminine forms) are in a similar relationship, although -trix is extraordinarily rare in common language.

  • Ah, so words for which we have a larger Latin corpus would be more likely to continue using the word the way it was used in Latin, while words borrowed from other languages might have -er or -or applied, whichever sounded right to writers. Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 21:50

-er, member of a group filling the role or a member of a group with only one person filling the role - intuitive plural

-or, singular primitive label of a person whose actions expedite without reference to the context of a group's doings

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Feb 8 at 9:15
  • Not only could the answer benefit from corroboration, but a gloss would be good: it is carpenter or carpentor by this definition? Why?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 8 at 9:46
  • Merriam-Webster seems to think they have the same meaning and are just variant spellings.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 8 at 10:08

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