That’s the title of a blog that’s been going since May, subtitled “Observations on British and American English by an American linguist in the UK.” Plenty of people make such observations, but few are actual linguists, and I’m very happy to find this. Here she discusses acclimate and acclimatize:

Either is acceptable in AmE, but to me, acclimati{s/z}e sounds better with physical rather than figurative climates. A quick look at Google suggests that there’s something to that intuition…
Interestingly, most of the acclimatizes were about adjusting to high altitudes, and many of the acclimates were about adjusting to life at an American university. No wonder it leapt into mind today, as I was almost in the word’s natural environment. (But haven’t acclimated to saying acclimatised.)
Acclimate was originally used in Britain, but, like many other things we’ve discussed, it faded out of use here while hanging around in the US. The OED records acclimate as slightly older (1792 vs. 1836).

Thanks go, once again, to aldiboronti.


  1. At bottom of the page he talks about the British recognition of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” as a way of settling legal disputes.

  2. Alas, that’s “apparently fictional.”

  3. Ahem–I’m a ‘she’ speaking about these things, please!
    Thanks for the plug, Hat!

  4. My pleasure, and I’m afraid The New Yorker’s fact-checking department isn’t what it used to be.

  5. I must confess I’d never heard the term ‘acclimate’, and am still trying to decide on a stress pattern. /,akle’meit/ is winning with me, though a quick look at the OED assures me it’s actually /e’klaimet/. (Excuse my unicode attempt at phonetics, e = schwa)
    Don’t blame me for this, I’m Australian. So, as we were being settled, ‘acclimate’ was dropping out of the settlers’ language (accordng to OED’s dates).
    The poor-person’s-corpus-analysis (google) backs this up. ‘Acclimate’ (within Australia) numbers only 720 hits while ‘acclimatise’ yields 31,900.
    Interestingly, ‘acclimatize’ gets 5790 hits. We’re probably more willing to adopt the American form of a productive suffix than a single irregular verb.

  6. I too am American by birth, but doing linguistics in the UK. I’ve never heard the bare form ‘acclimate’, but I do hear (and am fine with) the gerund ‘acclimating’. Why that should be better I do not know, but it definitely is for me. Perhaps it’s my dislike for overly long (in my opinion) forms, such as ‘orientating’ instead of ‘orienting’.

  7. a quick look at the OED assures me it’s actually /e’klaimet/
    Good lord, you’re right—I just checked, and that’s the only pronunciation they give. I’ve never heard it or been aware of its existence, though; in the U.S. we say /’aklimeit/.

  8. If you want to hear native American speakers pronouncing words, Merriam-Webster Online is a good source. The speaker pronounces acclimate (an everyday word for me — both transitive and intransitive) pretty much the same way I do (and LH evidently does). This isn’t always true. They have cot/caught and mary/marry/merry mergers. But do distinguish which/witch. (I myself make all these distinctions.)
    Dunno where a correspondingly good RP/BBC source is.

  9. Aidhoss, -ize can be Oxfordian (or simply unfrenchified) as well as American. Noah Webster didn’t invent the spelling.

  10. rather anticlimactic, lacks verve

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