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Prioritise vs Prioritize: Which Spelling Is The Correct One?

Prioritise vs Prioritize: Which Spelling Is The Correct One?

Even though prioritize and prioritize are almost exact words, there is one thing for sure. The way you prioritize or not prioritize things will undoubtedly have an impact on future events. The ability to prioritize correctly has always been a highly valued skill for people. Today, as never before, we have had so many different options and simultaneous paths to achieve our goals. From this arises the great importance of knowing how to prioritize all aspects of our lives. But the first step is to know for sure what the words prioritize and prioritize mean. Do they mean what we think they do or are they completely different words?

Prioritize is a verb to order elements, tasks, or things according to their importance, choosing what is more important over other options. On the other hand, "prioritise" is the accepted British spelling of the word "prioritize." Both terms mean the same and are correct. 

"Prioritize" and "prioritise" are part of a group of words spelled with a "z" in American English and with an "s" in British English. Let's think for a moment about all the fantastic and flourishing people we know. They almost certainly all can prioritize effectively. Deciding what is essential and then acting on that choice could be the key to success. If the question of how we can be more productive comes up, one step in the right direction might be prioritizing things. To continue learning much more about the word prioritize, its origin, and methods for doing it the right way, continue reading this article.

What Does "Prioritize" And "Prioritise" Mean?

Let's get down to business. We will now define the terms "prioritize" and "prioritise" so that there is no doubt about their different meanings.

prioritize sign hand holds letter R

What Does "Prioritize" Mean?

The word prioritize is a transitive or intransitive verb. Prioritize is the spelling used in the United States. This word is related to prioritizes, prioritized, prioritization and prioritizer. Its primary meanings are:

  • To decide which item in a group of several things is the most important so that you can take care of it immediately and before the others.
  • To order things from most to least important.
  • To determine which of the various jobs or tasks is the most important and urgent to do first.

What Does "Prioritise" Mean?

The word "prioritise" is the alternative spelling used in Great Britain. Its meaning is the same as prioritize.

It is relevant to note that the American spelling of "prioritize" is the most widely accepted form in the world.

Origin Of The Word "Prioritize"

To understand the origin of the word "prioritize," we must go back to its root, the word "priority." The term we are studying today is prevalent in the business world, but it is not to everyone's liking. Let's look at some of the historical facts surrounding the origin of this word.

  • We have to go back to the 14th century to find the first use of the equivalent of the word priority in Middle French and Latin. At the end of the 14th century, this word meant a "state of being prior" in the case of Old French and "fact or condition of being prior" in Latin.
  • Since the year 1400, people have defined priority as the "condition of being prior." All this tells us that at that time, people used "priority" to describe the first thing to be done concerning a given context.
  • The word priority remained in its singular form until 1940, when it emerged in the plural "priorities." Today, however, its use in the singular is more frequent than in the plural.
  • The word "prioritize," the priority with the ending "ize," is not recorded until 1972. In this year, "prioritize" appeared in a presidential campaign.

Top Synonyms For The Word "Prioritize" According To Its Meaning

To start clearing up any doubts you may have at this point, we want to clear them up by showing you some of the synonyms that apply perfectly with the word "prioritize."

The word "prioritize" can have two primary meanings that are similar but different at the same time. Depending on the meaning we give it and the specific context, we can have other synonyms.

The first significant meaning of "prioritize" is to put different things in order. In this case, the synonyms we can use are:

  • Classify
  • Order
  • Enumerate
  • Organize

The second meaning of "prioritize" is to give maximum importance to something. With this second definition, the words or expressions that would be synonyms are:

  • Focus on
  • Concentrate on
  • Highlight
  • To rank something first

As an interesting anecdote, we have that the book Essentialism said that the word "priority" had a different meaning than the one we give it today. This word had no plural since "priority" only described something first or prior. At this stage, debates between people appear because many say that you cannot simultaneously prioritize priorities since priority should point to a single task or activity.

How Do People Use The Word "Prioritize"?

Let's not let the fun drop. Now we will check some of the everyday uses we can give to our favorite word of the day: prioritize.

  • This word is used almost unanimously in the work or business world. It serves to put order and hierarchy of importance to all the tasks people should perform in work.
  • It is a word used to indicate the most important thing that we must solve or execute in any area of life.
  • Prioritize is also used to say which activities we will not do in the short term.
  • Even some people in companies often use the word priority as a list of all critical tasks. For example, priority 1, priority 2, priority 3. This form of usage generates controversy among some people. They argue that the concept of priority points to a single activity or task.
  • We can also use "prioritize" to say that someone has lost track of what is essential.
  • We can use "prioritize" to map out a path of objectives that we must accomplish in a specific order to achieve a larger goal.
  • It is a word that many political or social groups use to define the most urgent tasks that they must accomplish for the benefit of other people or situations.

Examples Of The Use Of The Words "Prioritise" And "Prioritize" In Everyday Sentences

We are almost experts in both of today's terms. But to close this day of knowledge with a flourish, there is only one thing left to do: to see some practical examples of "prioritize" and "prioritise" in simple sentences.

girl organizing and prioritizing tasks

Examples Of "Prioritize"

  • You should prioritize your time and pending tasks if you perceive that you are not managing your time well.
  • My advice is to prioritize your relationship above other things if you don't want to regret it.
  • Mary should prioritize her vacation. She has gone several years without taking a break.
  • Your department always turns in reports late because they don't know how to prioritize work.

Examples Of "Prioritise"

  • The new governor-elect should prioritise the public health of their community.
  • Should I prioritise my family or my job?.
  • The three doctors prioritise the mother's health above all else.
  • The new administration should prioritise what is in the best interest of the population.

A Final Thought On The Words "Prioritize" And "Prioritise"

"Prioritize" or "prioritise;" now we know that both terms are acceptable and have the same meaning. Prioritize is a word that has gained popularity in a short time, especially in the business world.

At a conceptual level, it seems that we all understand its meaning very well. Still, the challenge is to discern what is more important for each of us in real life. It is already a big step to be clear about these concepts. This clarity will help us to think through our future choices better and achieve our desired goals.