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Oriented Vs Orientated: Which Is The Commonly Used One?

by subhasree nag

It is nothing uncommon to get confused between two words while you are writing. We have discussed many such instances before, and this is no exception. The words oriented vs orientated might cause a little bit of confusion while you are writing, and it might take you a while to figure it out. 

Is there any difference between the words, or the two words are just various of one word? Do these two words have different uses and meanings in a sentence? Today we are going to discuss all about that in this article.

Oriented Vs Orientated: The Difference

To begin with, both words come from the same verb, “to orient.” This verb refers to position. You may be looking to figure out the position with respect to something. Maybe you want to orient yourself if you just got down from a rollercoaster or if you cannot figure out when and where you are after taking a good daytime nap.

The need to get oriented or orient yourself means a sensation of being thrown off or getting lost. It means that you require a moment to gather yourself. It might also mean that you are looking to find your way around someplace new. 

Oriented vs orientated are both past participle forms of the verb “to orient.” The choice between ‘oriented’ and ‘orientated’ depends on certain factors. Firstly, it depends on where you are based, and secondly, who you are speaking to or writing for. That is because both are the same and have the same meaning.

But they are not similar to homophones or homographs. These two are two different words, but they have the same meaning.

British vs American Spelling

Both the words can be used interchangeably. But it is important that you know that ‘orientated’ is mostly used in British English, and ‘oriented’ is more commonly used in American English. 

Most of the time, the American version of the spelling is the simple one, and the British form of it is the lesser-used one. It is like ‘travelling’ and ‘traveling.’ ‘Travelling’ is used in British English, and ‘traveling’ is used in American English.

When To Use Oriented

As we have mentioned, there is no difference in the meaning of both words, and they can be used interchangeably, but ‘oriented’ is the most popularly used one. This is the clear word form and is mostly used.

Well, there is no such reason behind not using the other form, but readers often get stuck and think that it means something different. This often distracts the readers from the original content. 

Examples Of Oriented

  • Let me get oriented, my head is still spinning from the rollercoaster ride.
  • I cannot orient myself, I had a great nap this afternoon.

When To Use Orientated

In British English, ‘orientated’ is more commonly used, but when compared to the American use, it is nowhere close to it. People often confuse the word ‘orientated’ with a verb form of ‘orientation.’ But in reality, this is a needless variant. It is best to avoid the use of the term to avoid any form of confusion.

Examples Of Orientated

  • Get yourself orientated to the west, that is the side that will keep you safe.

Possible Distinction

Well, it is often said that there is a bit of difference in both the terms. At least with the meaning of it. If you look for the specific meaning of turning one way or to face some way, it is said that ‘orientated’ is the word that actually means it. 

To be precise, orientated is mostly used to mean geographic directions, and oriented is mostly used to mean metaphorical sense, like getting someone’s bearings straight. This difference was not born in one day, just depending on the usage. But in various dictionaries, it is said that oriented is also related to directions. 

Fowler’s has a small note on the usage of the words. It says, “The shorter form [orient] emerged in the 18c. (first cited in Chambers Cyclopaedia of 1728) and the longer one [orientate], in the same sense (as in the French original), in the 19c. (1848). Both with the meaning ‘to face or cause to face east’ specifically in relation to the east-west alignment of churches. Both words then went in identical directions and developed the same extended sense – ‘to place in any particular way with respect to the cardinal points of the compass’: and figuratively, ‘to ascertain one’s “bearings”.” 

Summing Up!

To sum things up, oriented vs orientated both mean the same thing, though they are not homophones. They can both be used in place of one another, and both words are accepted. But the word ‘oriented’ is more commonly used in American English, and the word ‘orientated’ is mostly used in British English.


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