Ok, so I’m all about a good cause, (highly subjective, of course) and I also have a small fascination with dictionaries and the colloquial development of words, so imagine my delight when I came across this website this morning when I was looking into the origin of the word stationary (don’t ask). For those of you that aren’t inclined to go to the website, I’m pasting the information here just for kicks. No, I didn’t sign…I’m exercising my right to choose those battle wisely, but if this might be something that you feel passionately about, sign away!
Stationary or Stationery: we’ve got both
Twentieth century dictionaries define stationary as not mobile, and stationery as writing paper and envelopes.
The word “stationery” however was originally spelled with an “a” in English. It derived from the fact that such products were sold in “stationary” shops and not from travelling peddlers. Both spelling derive from the Latin stationarius defined as a place where something is located.
The earliest documented appearance of the word stationary is in the early 1400’s. The word stationery, as an alternative spelling, does not appear until the late 1600’s.
A look at Internet search patterns indicates that more users search for stationary than stationery (see table). This ranges from over twice as many searches for “email stationary” than “email stationery” to an approximately 6% preference for “business stationary” over “business stationery”.
It’s probably about time to return to an early age and correctly spell the word as stationary.
If you agree, please sign the petition to change stationery to stationary.
At first we called this site just “Stationary”. We tried “Stationary Station”, “Stationary Canary” and a few others, but have settled on “Stationary Nation”.