incriminate. criminate

In 2004, I asked Merriam-Webster the following question. Associate Editor, Kathleen M. Doherty, replied as follows.

Q: “Round” is to “around,” and “disfranchise is to disenfranchise,” as “criminate” is to “incriminate”; the former are simply abbreviations for the latter.

For brevity, I prefer to use the abbreviations. Do you think this is permissible as a rule, and do you know why the preponderance of people prefer the full words?

A: “Criminate” and “incriminate” are really two separate words, synonymous with each other. There’s no reason you can’t use “criminate” if you want to. It’s far less commonly found, though, and some might not be familiar with it, which could lead to confusion on the part of the reader or hearer of the word.

The same answer applies to the words “around” and “round,” and “disfranchise” and “disenfranchise.” These are four separate words, with “around” and “round” being synonyms of one another as are “disfranchise” and “disenfranchise.”

While “around” is the more common in American English, “round” is used more often in British English.

At one time “disfranchise” was more common than “disenfranchise.” It’s only been over the last 40 years or so that “disenfranchise” has become more frequent.

Q: What about “ameliorate” and “meliorate,” and “iterate” and “reiterate”?

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