Short shot #46a: graduatize

More educational jargon, from Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words #689, 5/8/10:

LEARNING TERMS  An unfamiliar word, GRADUATISED (GRADUATIZED if you’re American or very formal) appeared in an British article. It refers to a profession or occupation, the entry to which has been restricted to university graduates. The article addressed the problems of school leavers, who are increasingly finding it hard to get jobs for this reason. Educationalists have used GRADUATISED, its verb GRADUATISE, and its linked noun GRADUATISATION, at least since the early 1970s, though it’s still a term of art in the profession and is rarely found outside specialist or scholarly publications. A rare sighting of the noun was a comment by the (then) British PM Gordon Brown in the Evening Standard of London on 30 April 2008: “This is one of the wider problems with today, the graduatisation of the political and media worlds. So many people are now excluded because they left school at 16 or 18.”

Educational jargon tends to get very bad press (though both educational rubric and graduatize can be defended on the grounds that they are not only compact but also useful in their context), and innovations in -ize (verbings by derivational suffix) have been reviled for a long time, so graduatize gets a double dose of scorn. And, in fact, if you’re not familiar with it (as I was not, until Michael put this entry in WWW), its meaning can be very hard to guess even in context. But you can see its utility.

3 Responses to “Short shot #46a: graduatize”

  1. xyzzyva Says:

    “GRADUATISED (GRADUATIZED if you’re American or very formal)”

    Is the “formal” comment in reference to the Oxford style of using -ize?

    [(amz) Remember that the comment comes from Michael Quinion, not me. Michael is indeed British, but I’m not going to try to interpret his intent in this passage (though I’ll pass this comment on to him). For what it’s worth, I took him to be referring to the Oxford style.]

    Is it particularly widespread in formal writing in Britain?

    [(amz) Not in my experience.]

    And does the -ise form then seem low-brow to the British?

    [(amz) I’m sure it doesn’t. In fact, British writers on usage frequently deride -ize as a vulgar Americanism.]

  2. Michael Quinion Says:

    In British English, “-ize” is now restricted to formal prose, most commonly in the academic sphere, though a few publishers, such as the Oxford University Press, mandate it in their house style (contrarywise, the Cambridge University Press has long preferred “-ise”). No newspaper or other popular periodical employs it that I know of. British dictionaries, however, include both forms, with the “-ize” one first. I take this to be lexicographical conservatism, since evidence from the British National Corpus supports the popularity of “-ise” (the ratio is about 3:2 in its favour, I believe). The great advantage of “-ise” is that then you don’t have to remember the exceptions (but “capsize” is a gotcha). See also my piece at .

  3. The velocitized Toad « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] graduatise ‘restrict entry to a a profession or occupation to university graduates’ (link), thesaurusize / thesaurisize ‘use a thesaurus to find near-synonyms’ (various Language […]

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