Word Confusion: Reverend versus Reverent

Posted August 10, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

He was quite the reverent reverend sitting so still in his seat.

He was quite the reverend reverent…nah, that doesn’t work. Sounds like I mistook the word reverent for revenant. Ick.

Yeah, yeah, I know reverend and reverent both imply that worship and respect are involved, and that both are adjectives. However, the adjective reverend is actually a professional title and must be capitalized when used as an adjective (usually preceding a noun). Reverent is only ever capitalized at the start of a sentence.

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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Reverend Reverent
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: reverend

Four reverends in fancy dress walking down the street

“Rochet Plissage” is Carolus’ own work under the CC BY 3.0 license, via via Wikimedia Commons

A parade of reverends.

A Marine sergeant stands before tall white tombstones of fallen comrades

“Fallen Comrades Honored at Cuzco Wells Cemetery” by Sgt. Spencer Rhodes is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A reverent Marine respecting fallen comrades.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun
Plural for the noun: reverends
Usually Reverend

[Uses an initial cap] Used as a title or form of address to members of the clergy or a religious order

  • [Abbreviation] Rev., Revd.

Worthy to be revered

  • Entitled to reverence

Pertaining to or characteristic of the clergy

[Informal] A member of the Christian clergy

Feeling or showing deep and solemn respect

  • Deeply respectful
The Reverend is a professional honorific with its own rules of usage (read “Abbreviations“).

If using the with the title, spell reverend out in full and include either the first name or the first initial along with the surname.

Wow, the Reverend F.R. Brimstone sure preached a fiery sermon this morning.

Only abbreviate reverend (when using as a proper title) if you are not using the.

Wow, Rev. F.R. Brimstone sure preached a fiery sermon this morning.

The Right Reverend “is a courtesy title used when addressing a member of the clergy such as a Christian Orthodox abbot” (Robert Hickey, The Official Guide to Names, Titles, & Forms of Address).

Reverend Mother will see you now.

Titles such as Very Reverend and Most Reverend, among other versions, are formatted the same way as Reverend with the or the abbreviations.

The reverends have all gathered in the library, Father.

Have the rest of the reverends arrived yet?

We stood in a reverent silence.

It was quite the reverent greeting.

“This was as faithful and reverent an adaptation as could ever have been hoped for” (George R.R. Martin’s “Top 10 Fantasy Films” courtesy of The Daily Beast, 10 Apr 2011).

It was with a reverent tone in his voice that he asked the bishop’s blessing.

It was the reverent hush of a respectful audience.

“He was not angry now, but spoke gently and watched her reaction to what he said with reverent patience.” – Robin McCorquodale, Dansville

“Up the long hill to East Grinstead, keeping a steady, reverent twenty-five miles an hour, the traffic building up behind.” – Stephen Murray, Death and Transfiguration

As the cortege passed, the crowd lowered their heads in reverent memory of their hero.

Noun: reverendship Adjective: nonreverent, reverential, self-reverent
Adverb: nonreverently, reverentially, reverently
Noun: reverence, reverentness
Verb, transitive: revere, reverence
History of the Word:
Late Middle English from the Old French or from the Latin reverendus meaning person to be revered; a gerundive of revereri. 1350-1400 (Middle English) from the Latin reverent- (stem of reverēns), the present participle of reverērī meaning to revere.

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:

Kneeling for Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s newly blessed and restored altar railing on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus at our Extraordinary Form Sunday High Mass, January 4, 2015! by Father Allan J. MacDonald is courtesy of Southern Orders.