Word Confusion: Premier versus Premiere

Posted October 9, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

While premier and premiere are all about the first of anything, premier is strictly about the time, occurrence, or rank. Premiere is about the first time someone or something performs. Or is the leading lady of a theatrical production.

And this was my own word confusion. I find myself dithering between adding that e on the end or not!

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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Premier Premiere
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: premier and premiere

Black-and-white photograph of John Macdonald

“John Sandfield Macdonald” by William James Topley is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1867, John Sandfield Macdonald became the first premier of the newly created province of Ontario.

Teresa Palmer standing in front of a banner for film The Hunger Games

“Teresa Palmer” by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer is under the CC BY-SA license, via VisualHunt

Teresa Palmer poses at the start of the premiere for The Hunger Games.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1; Noun 2
Plural for the noun: premiers
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: premieres
Past tense or past participle: premiered
Gerund or present participle: premiering

[Attrib. & Prenominal] First in importance, order, rank, or position

  • Leading
  • Chief

First in time, occurrence

  • Earliest
  • Oldest
  • First in

A prime minister or other head of government

  • [In Australia and Canada] The chief minister of a government of a state or province
  • First minister
  • Prime minister

A chief officer

[Australia; plural use only] The winners of a premiership


  • Initial
  • Principal

[Of a musical, play, opera, theatrical work, or film] Have its first public performance

The leading lady in a theatre company

Verb, intransitive:
To have the first public showing

To perform publicly for the first time, as in a particular role, entertainment medium, etc.

Verb, transitive:
Give the first performance of

As far as I’m concerned, Jethro Tull is the premier rock ‘n roll flautist.

The New York Times is the premier national newspaper.

The premier issue of the quarterly for the college came out last month.

“Female stars of the nation’s premier improv collective read a gay friend’s Grindr messages.” – Jack Holmes, The Daily Beast Video, “The Ladies of Second City Read Grindr Hookup Messages“, 10 December 2014

“When most of us think of the premier retirement destination for unrepentant Nazis, our minds immediately turn to South America.” – Guy Walters, “Hitler’s Henchmen in Arabia“, 6 December 2014

Wen Jiabao served two terms as premier in China.

In 2017, Mark McGowan was the premier in Western Australia.

It was the premiere showing for Iron Man.

Nicole Kidman’s gown was the premiere attraction of the evening.

Are you going to the premiere tonight?

“Most recently, Karl Lagerfeld hosted a grand fête celebrating the premiere of his film Reincarnation.” – Justin Jones, The Daily Beast, “Inside The World’s 10 Oldest Restaurants, 19 December 2014

Edward Small had planned to make a film version of the play The Mousetrap with Maria Schell as the premiere, but it came to naught.

Verb, intransitive:
The show premiered in New York this week.

The seventh season for Game of Thrones premiered in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

It will premiere at the Arcadia Theater.

When does he premiere as Hamlet?

Verb, transitive:
His first stage play was premiered at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Our little Maggie is premiering in her first musical solo Thursday night.

Noun: premiership
History of the Word:
1 Mid-15th century meaning first in time.

By the late 15th century, it meant first in rank from the Middle French premier meaning first, chief, from the Latin primarius meaning principal.
2 1711, in the political sense, it was a shortening of premier minister (1680s)

In U.S. usage, premier formerly was applied occasionally to the Secretary of State (1855-c.1900).

Late 19th century from the French première, the feminine of premier meaning first.

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:

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth Nations, 1960, Windsor Castle, courtesy of the Diefenbaker Centre and the British Government. The image is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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