Orient or Orientate?

The word orient as a noun means "east." It may be capitalized when referring to the geographical location of the Far East.

Example: Hong Kong is located in the Orient.

Orient as a verb means to "find direction" or "give direction." The noun form of this kind of orienting is orientation.

Sometimes people in their speech will form an imagined verb from orientation and say orientate. At best, orientate is a back-formation used humorously to make the speaker sound pompous. The correct word is the verb orient.

Incorrect: Melanie is helping me get orientated to the new job.

Correct: Melanie is helping me get oriented to the new job.

Orientate is more widely accepted in the U.K. than in the U.S.A., but it should be avoided in any formal or standard writing.

For much more on this and other words that are similarly created by back-formation from a noun see http://www.niquette.com/books/101words/orient.htm.


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