I am interested in the origin and usage of apprise versus appraise.

There is overlap in usage. In one meaning the latter can be substituted for the former and this is recognised in sense 4 in the OED - 'to inform or notify'. Its more common meaning, however, is 'to assess or evaluate'.

And appraise has apparently an earlier history with examples from the 15th century, but it has a less certain etymology, with even the strange suggestion that it is as an alteration of apprise.

However apprise seems a later word and its etymology is said to be connected to the French apprendre - to learn (OED). But there are no examples prior to 1694.

My impression is that so far the the 'inform and notify' meanings are concerned that whilst in Britain it tends to be appraise, (be sure to appraise me of your progress), Americans are more inclined to apprise - or presumably apprize.

Does anyone know anything about this?

  • This is one occasion where American vs British spelling actually makes a difference; apprize in Britain has a specific meaning 'to put a price on', similar to and a possible origin of appraise. Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 16:00
  • @TimLymington I was wondering why I had never encountered this meaning until I noticed that the most recent example in the OED is from 1877. Nothing whatever in the 20th century!
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


The two terms are often confused because of their similar sound and spelling. But their meanings are different and have no common etymology. The use of 'appraise' meaning to inform or notify appears to be due to a misuse of the term (see ODO below). I could find no other dictionary mentioning that 'appraise' means also 'to apprise.

GARNER'S Modern American Usage says that the use of 'appraise' instead of 'apprise' is rare and erroneous'.

Appraise vs apprise: (from www.grammarist.com)

  • To appraise something is to determine its value or to evaluate it. For instance, one might appraise an antique lamp to be worth $40.

  • To apprise is to make someone aware of something. Is often used in the structure apprise someone of something, as in 'psychiatrists were apprised of his condition'.

    • People often incorrectly use appraise rather than apprise, as in 'once appraised of the real facts, there was only one person who showed any opposition.' (from ODO).
  • The two words are not etymologically related and share no definitions, yet they’re easy to confuse because they sound similar and are both somewhat rare.

    • If you need help remembering them, keep in mind that appraising something often involves praising it (when it is worthy or valuable), and apprise both rhymes with and is similar in meaning to advise.

Etymology: appraise (from Old French aprisier) has an earlier origin than apprise ( from French appris/apprendre) and a quite different etymology.


  • c.1400, "to set a value on," from stem of Old French aprisier "apraise, set a price on" (14c., Modern French apprécier), from Late Latin appretiare "value, estimate," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + pretium "price" (see price (n.)). Original English spelling apprize altered by influence of praise.


  • "to notify," 1690s, from French appris, past participle of apprendre "to inform, teach," literally "to lay hold of (in the mind)," another metaphoric meaning of Latin apprehendere (see apprehend).
  • +1 and a tick. An erudite and well-informed answer, BUT if people 'incorrectly' use appraise when they mean apprise, it is a 'mistake' which the OED recognises as a valid usage. (Sense 4).
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 17:50
  • Most sources available insist on the fact that the two terms are distinct but that they are often confused. This frequent confusion might have given credit to the erroneous usage as suggested by The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style: books.google.it/…
    – user66974
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 18:39

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