What’s the Relevance . . . or Relevancy?

In a professional development workshop today, someone used the word “relevancy.” I don’t remember who said it or what the context was (thanks to last night’s insomnia), but I do remember the word. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me that “relevancy” is not a word, or that it is an unfortunate or undesirable choice for whatever reason, but I do know that I don’t like it. I much prefer “relevance.” Some sources, such as Grammarist and the folks at the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange, state that the forms are interchangeable although the former claims that “relevance” is preferred. For what it’s worth, the OED notes the first use of “relevancy” in 1678 and that of “relevance” in 1787. Looking at “-ancy” and “-ance” in isolation, however, reveals more information. According to the OED, “-ancy” comes from the Latin “-ntia” and relates to a “quality or state.” On the other hand, “-ance”–which comes from Latin but via Old French–relates to action. It would seem, then, that if once were to take a prescriptive perspective, “relevancy” would be the preferable word. I guess the only thing left for me to do is to deal with it.

Are there words or forms of words that drive you crazy, even if they shouldn’t?

Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 3:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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