Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I have been rather conscious about the usage and abusage of the word "revert" in the many emails and correspondence that I receive.

Someone pointed me to a very interesting piece on this very matter of the usage and abusage of the word "revert" in the New York Times written by Ben Zimmer. You can access the piece here.

I am profiting from Mr Zimmer's industry in ferreting out the background, context and usage of the word.

It appears that the word "revert" is understood in the English-speaking world to mean "to go back" or "to return to the former condition"...except in South Asia and parts of Southeast Asia.

In South Asia and parts of Southeast Asia, the word "revert" is taken to mean, "to reply". 

As with all things English, I prefer to rely on the Oxford Dictionary which defines the word "revert" to mean "return to (a previous state, practice, topic, etc.)" which is not quite the same as "to reply" izzit?


walla said...

What does reply lead to when revert leads to reversion?

Maybe the AG can answer. On second thought...


STEEST said...

I may be wrong but I believe lawyers began this bad practise. :)

What say you?

de minimis said...

Hi Lita. Got any evidence to support the allegation? :D

STEEST said...

We'll have to look for the first official letter written by lawyers.

The first time I saw this word was from a lawyer. hahahahahaha.