Word Confusion: Orientated vs Oriented vs Orienteered

Posted May 4, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

In a book I was reading, one of the characters was editing some paperwork, and she was annoyed that the writer didn’t know the difference between orientate and orient, so I got curious.

Turns out she should have left well enough alone, as there is no real difference other than country of use. In the UK, people use orientate, while in the US, people use orient. No biggie; you can use either one. Although you may want to pay attention to dialogue, character, and/or setting and whether any of these three would have a British or American background you may wish to emphasize.

As a bit of background, Orient (as a noun) means the countries of east Asia, so a strict use of orient/orientate as a verb means to align yourself to the east. These days, either verb is more generally used to position yourself.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Orientated Oriented Orienteered
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: orient

Three arrows pointing out from a central base

“Right-Orientated Coordinate System” is Svjo’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons


An old black-and-white photograph landscape-oriented of an old house

“FSPS Ainslie Road, No. 6 Lot 29 Heaney Yalma Jean, 3-2-D 1978” is courtesy of a Fremantle Society Photographic Survey by The Fremantle Society established in 1972 in Fremantle, Western Australia, (coordinates 32° 03′ 13″ S, 115° 45′ 00″ E) Authority control: Q7735245, under the CC BY-SA 2.5 au license, via Wikimedia Commons

A landscape-oriented photograph.


An orienteering map showing elevations and checkpoints

“WOC 2014 Middle Distance Course Map” from an interview with “Ida Bobach: – I felt entertained the whole way” by Jan Kocbach, 15 November 2014 from Orienteering News

Part of Grammar:
Past tense or past participle for orientate


Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: orientates
Gerund or present participle: orientating

Past tense or past participle for orient


Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: orients
Gerund or present participle: orienting

Past tense or past participle for orienteer


Verb, intransitive

Third person present verb: orienteers
Gerund or present participle: orienteering

Chiefly British


See orient
Chiefly American


Verb, intransitive:
Align or position (something) relative to the points of a compass or other specified positions

Verb, transitive:
Find one’s position in relation to new and strange surroundings, circumstances, facts, etc.

To familiarize a person with new surroundings or circumstances, or the like

Establish one’s location

To place in any definite position with reference to the points of the compass or other locations

To direct or position toward a particular object

To determine the position of in relation to the points of the compass

  • Get the bearings of

To place so as to face the east, especially to build (a church) with the chief altar to the east and the chief entrance to the west

[Surveying] To set (the horizontal circle of a surveying instrument) so that readings give correct azimuths

[Sport, individual] Take part in orienteering

Using a map and compass to find a way through unfamiliar territory

Examples:
Verb, intransitive:
The fires are orientated in direct line with the midsummer sunset.

Verb, transitive:
There being no street names meant she couldn’t get orientated.

She paused at the intersection and orientated herself.

The lectures are designed to orientate the new students.

The architect says she orientated the house to point north and south to take advantage of the views.

It was orientated toward that house.

In their religion, the church’s chief altar orientated east and the main entrance orientated west.

Once a direct observation is made, we can orientate on that for additional measurements.

Verb, intransitive:
The fires are oriented in direct line with the midsummer sunset.

Verb, transitive:
There being no street names meant she couldn’t get oriented.

She paused at the intersection and oriented herself.

The lectures are designed to orient the new students.

The architect says she oriented the house to point north and south to take advantage of the views.

It was oriented toward that house.

In their religion, the church’s chief altar was oriented east and the main entrance oriented west.

Once a direct observation is made, we can orient on that for additional measurements.

Oh, George went orienteering with his buddies this weekend.

Paul and I orienteered over the summer months.

Derivatives:
Adjective: orientational
Noun: orientation
Verb, transitive:
reorientate, reorientated, reorientating
Adjective: orient, oriental, self-oriented, well-oriented
Adverb: orientally
Noun: orient, the Orient, Orientalia, orientalism, orientalist, orientation, orienter
Verb: orientalize
Noun: orienteer, orienteering
History of the Word:
Mid 19th century, probably as a back-formation from orientation. 1350-1400, Middle English from the Middle French, which is from the Latin orient- (stem of oriēns) the east, sunrise. Alteration of Swedish orientering, from orientera meaning to orient is from the French orienter, which is from from orient meaning east.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Boussole prisme groupe” is Jaypee’s own work under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses and “JoeyRamonePlaceBowery” by User:DavidShankBone was uploaded to en: 6 August 2006) under the CC BY 2.5 license; both are via Wikimedia Commons.



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