Commentator vs. commenter

A commenter is someone who makes isolated comments. These days, the word most often refers to people who post comments on blogs and news websites. A commentator is someone who provides commentary. The term usually applies to professionals in sports broadcasting or television news. Commentators don’t just make one comment; commenting is what they do.

The difference between these words corresponds to the difference between a comment and commentary. A comment is an isolated remark, while a commentary is a series of remarks, explanations, and interpretations.


When we talked a bit about reducing food-related waste, one commenter mentioned that her main frustration was over produce packaging, especially organic produce. [Care2]

And when it was revealed that Channel Ten was not going to use her as an AFL commentator this season, there were plenty who relished another opportunity to stick the boot in. [Sydney Morning Herald]

The scoop artist is edlharris, a frequent and often wise commenter in this blog.[Washington Post]

Commentator Glenn Beck and others have repeatedly drawn parallels between Egypt and the Wisconsin protests. [Christian Science Monitor]

Now though it has had to be moderated after it was hijacked by commenters who mocked both Natasha and the manner of her death heartlessly. [Telegraph]

Many fans and NBA commentators have said that we are witnessing a point guard revolution. [Yahoo! Sports]

10 thoughts on “Commentator vs. commenter”

  1. Thanks for this post. I worried I might be going crazy since “commenter” isn’t in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Chrome gives me the squiggly red line of failure for it, too. Is there an authoritative source that recognizes both?

    • It’s listed in the OED, but in any case there are two points I would make that might ease your mind about the squiggly line. First, “-er” is very much a living suffix, meaning it can be affixed to virtually any verb, and we don’t have to worry about whether the result is dictionary-approved because all such verb-derived agent nouns are inherently part of the language, even those that have not appeared enough to gain much notice. Second, “commenter” is sanctioned by an abundance of real-world use, both in and out of edited writing and all over the English-speaking world. We like to check big, well-edited news publications for these things because they tend to lag only a little behind what’s accepted in popular usage (whereas books tend to be many years behind, and specialty categories of writing tend to keep distance from popular usage), and “commenter” appears regularly in outlets like the New York Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Globe and Mail, and it’s also in AP and Reuters stories. So I would say that there’s nothing to worry about.

  2. Does A commenter on a specific subject of which they have expertise, using a series of remarks, explanations, and interpretations, on blogs and news websites, have a better description?

  3. Thanks for the clarity on commenter vs. commentator. I figured this was the difference between the two, but it’s nice to now be certain.

  4. Commentator drives me nuts and should be banninated. There needs to be a LOT more additional proof in favor of “commentate”, a LOT more. I think it’s hokey.


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