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Saturday, August 4, 2007

Word of the Week

Endorse and Indorse

English is full of words in which there is a "hesitation" (as Fowler puts it) between the initial i- and the initial e-. Here is a fine example from the law.

A person indorses a document by signing it on the back, or as they say in Latin, in dorso (dorso, of course, being the root of the English dorsal, as in the dorsal fin of a shark). In Britain, people spell the word endorse while in the US, it’s indorse for checks and endorse for all other meanings. “Indorse” is the more traditional spelling; it was favored by Blackstone, who enthusiastically reported that the payee of a negotiable instrument may assign his rights “to any other man, by indorsement . . . and he may assign the same to another, and so on in infinitium.” I don’t think he meant that last bit literally.

5 comments:

LRH said...

Thanks for the timely info! I've been working on a legal spelling dictionary add-on for Word, and those two spellings came onto my radar. I'd been wondering what the difference was.

Adam Freedman said...

You're welcome! And don't forget guaranty vs. guarantee for your dictionary...

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