commenter vs. commentator

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon Jun 21 13:42:14 UTC 2010

On a social list of mine recently a lot of folks revealed their language
peeves, many of which were standard peever fodder (utilize vs. use, try
and vs. try to, etc.), and which I responded to with excerpts from MWDEU
and Huddleston & Pullum's Students Intro. One of the peeves was

So I noticed a use of "commenter" vs. "commentator" in a Boston Globe
Magazine article yesterday. It was about heavy users of newspaper
discussion boards or the comment function of online newspaper articles.

"Occasionally, he'll commit the common commenter sin of weighing in on
an article without having read it. . . . But, overall, he plays by the
rules, works hard at this commenter job of his, and, in a way serves his
community." -- Neil Swidey, "Two Cents in the Digital Age," Boston Globe
Magazine, 20 June 2010, p. 20.

I'm probably reading too much into this semantically, but the author and
editors probably chose to use "commenter" because of the difference
between posting discrete comments to a number of stories as opposed to
creating a unified commentary.

I apologize if there's already stuff about this in the archives.

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list