Appraise vs. apprise

To appraise something is to determine its value or to evaluate it. For instance, one might appraise an antique lamp to be worth $40. To apprise is to make someone aware of something. In this post, for example, we’re apprising our readers of the difference between appraise and apprise.

The two words are not etymologically related and share no definitions, yet they’re easy to confuse because they sound similar and are both somewhat rare. If you need help remembering them, keep in mind that appraising something often involves praising it (when it is worthy or valuable), and apprise both rhymes with and is similar in meaning to advise.

Apprize

This will only confuse things, but it’s worth noting that apprise does have a rarely used secondary definition that makes it synonymous with appraise. The Oxford English Dictionary lists this sense as “to estimate the worth of, value, appreciate.” But for this sense of the word, which actually predates the sense mentioned above by a few centuries, the primary spelling is apprize. There is no reason for 21st-century English speakers to use this word, though, because we have appraise (and other synonyms), which always works in its place.

Meanwhile, dictionaries also list apprize as a secondary spelling of apprise in the sense to make someone aware of something, but this spelling is almost never used, even in parts of the English-speaking world that typically favor -ize endings over -ise ones.

Examples

After renovations, he said, it recently was appraised at $370,000. [New York Times]

Showing the verbosity of an Al Quaeda operative at an interview at Guantanamo Bay, he briefly apprised me of the details. [Herald Scotland]

As the women stand and watch from beneath the shady eaves of the clinic, the men gather around, appraising us curiously. [Australian]

Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra has just written to Union urban development secretary Sudhir Mishra apprising him of the state government’s plans. [Times of India]

It was also used to appraise the past activities of the service in terms of its strengths, weakness and the way forward. [Ghana News Agency]

The Criminal Code specifies that anyone who is HIV-positive must apprise their sexual partners. [Globe and Mail]

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