According to thefreedictionary, "transferrer" is someone who transfers something. However, it also lists the alternate spelling "transferer", with only one r in the middle. For the related "transferred", it does not list a variant with only one r.

So, which one is correct? Is there a geographical preference to using one or the other?

This reminds me of a famous misspelling in the specification for the HTTP protocol used by the internet, "referer", which as generally established should have been spelled "referrer". Now as "referrer" relates to the verb "to refer" and "referral", and there is "transferral", it seems logical to me that "transferrer" is spelled with two r as well. However, thefreedictionary again also lists "transferer".

Note that I am not asking about why the consonant is doubled, but which of both variants that seem to be common is the correct one.

  • I've edited to add the tag "double-consonant", which provides plenty of useful discussion on this subject. See in particular english.stackexchange.com/questions/2104/…. When adding a suffix, a general rule for consonant-vowel-consonant endings is to double the consonant if the emphasis is on the last syllable (forget+t+ing) but not if it's on an earlier syllable (target+ing), except if the last letter is an L (canceling) unless you're non-American (cancelling). But not always. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jun 7 '16 at 12:44
  • Possible duplicate of Why is "transferred" written with two R's? – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jun 7 '16 at 12:46
  • Two oddities: 1) Ngram shows "transferer" more popular since about 1960. 2) If it's "transferrer" why is it not also "transferree"? – Hot Licks Jun 7 '16 at 13:05
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    @Hot Licks: it's not transferee because the stress shifts to the last syllable. Compare referrer and referee. – Peter Shor Jun 7 '16 at 13:09
  • @PeterShor - Over the long run, the more regular form will beat out the clinical one. – Hot Licks Jun 7 '16 at 13:11

The word transfer is stressed on the first syllable as a noun, and either the first or second syllable as a verb.

In general, you double an "r" at the end of a word when the second syllable is stressed (referrer, referred), but not when the second syllable is unstressed (caterer, catered).

Since transferred is treated as though the second syllable is stressed, presumably transferrer should be as well.

Google Ngrams shows an overwhelming performance for transferor, both in the U.S. and in the U.K.

You could argue that transferor has a specialized meaning, in that it only applies to legal transfers of title and property, and that transferrer should be the word for other meanings. However, since transferor is much more common and probably more widely recognized by spell checkers, I am sure it is sometimes used for the non-legal meaning. I don't know how frequent this usage is.

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    But note that "transferor" has a specific legal meaning, and that may be coloring the Ngram results. (Entered just as you made your edit.) – Hot Licks Jun 7 '16 at 13:02
  • I agree with @PeterShor last para. - there are many words that have a strict meaning in a legal context, but that doesn't stop them being used more loosely in non-legal contexts. – TrevorD Jun 7 '16 at 16:51
  • While ODO puts the stress on the second syllable of transferor, my instinct would have been to stress the last syllable, in which case the single "r" would be consistent. Many legal terms use -or for the actor and -ee for the recipient or person affected, and the suffix is usually stressed: lessor/lessee, grantor/grantee, guarantor/guarantee, mortgagor/mortgagee, obligor/obligee. Strange that transferee has the stressed suffix but transferor apparently does not... – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jun 29 '16 at 7:43

It's transferrer/transferor. If you look at the ODO definition, it's a derivative of the word transfer.

If you search for transferer you get

No exact match found for “transferer” in British & World English

By looking at the OED definition, it can be seen that transferer is used, but only in place of transferrer and transferor:

[...] used sometimes for transferrer n., sometimes in the technical sense of transferor n.

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