Is there any significant difference between sortation and sorting?

Amazon's local distribution center is called "Amazon Sortation Center". I hadn't seen sortation used before.

  • What do dictionaries have to say? Jun 25 '17 at 22:01
  • The difference is lost on me, other than that sort can be a noun as well.
    – PV22
    Jun 25 '17 at 22:06
  • @EdwinAshworth the dictionaries I checked give definitions that don't provide differentiation. Jun 26 '17 at 18:37
  • 1
    AHD and Collins have caveats on usage. Jun 26 '17 at 21:53

Sortation does exist, but means exactly the same as sorting. The OED has a page or so of explanation of the -ation and -tion suffixes, ending

words in which -ation is, or seems to be, merely added to the verb, are synonymous with the verbal substantive in -ing; already in 17th c. the use of vexation, visitation, etc. instead of vexing, visiting, etc. (flirtation, starvation had not yet been heard of) was ridiculed thus: T. Randolph Amyntas i. iii. 9 in Poems (1638) The. But what languages Doe they speake, servant? Mop. Several languages, As Cawation, Chirpation, Hootation. Whistleation, Crowation, Cackleation, Shreekation, Hissation. The. And Fooleation.

  • 1
    Sortation is simply a more formal version of sorting, in my experience. Other words can be used the same way; we could have, e.g., a collaboration exercise or a collaborating exercise. Jun 25 '17 at 23:14
  • 2
    @JimMacKenzie I find sortation more pretentious than formal.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 25 '17 at 23:29
  • @Tim What do "The" and "Mop" in italics towards the end of your quote refer to?
    – Lawrence
    Jun 25 '17 at 23:30
  • 1
    Not to be confused with sortition.
    – tchrist
    Jun 26 '17 at 0:55
  • @tchrist: That's what I was trying to find! I rather like the idea of "You have ordered from Amazon! Let's spin the wheel and find what you will receive..." Jun 26 '17 at 9:55

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