Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sanatorium; sanitorium; *sanatarium; *sanitarium.

sanatorium; sanitorium; *sanatarium; *sanitarium.

Dictionaries are almost evenly split between the spellings “sanatorium” and “sanitorium” (= an institution for the treatment of chronic diseases or care of long-term convalescents; a health resort). *"Sanatarium" and *"sanitarium" are needless variants — e.g.:

o “Early Tuesday, Carter — the first former or current American president to visit Castro’s Cuba — was to visit Cuba’s AIDS sanatarium [read 'sanatorium' or 'sanitorium'] and a farm cooperative, both on the outskirts of Havana.” “Carter Debates Castro on Rights, Democracy,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 14 May 2002, at A4.

o “More than 47,000 people were hospitalized in the state tuberculosis sanitarium [read 'sanatorium' or 'sanitorium'].” Karen Bair, “Looking Back,” Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), 24 Feb. 2003, at D1.

The plural form is “sanatoriums” or “sanitoriums” — preferably not *"sanatoria" or *"sanitoria."

Although some writers have tried to distinguish “sanitorium” as a facility for physical healthcare from “sanatorium” as one for mental healthcare, dictionaries record the same meaning for both terms from the mid-19th century on.

*Invariably inferior forms.

For information about the Language-Change Index, click here.
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Quotation of the Day: “English does more than borrow; it absorbs. If a word, no matter what its source, is useful to us, it becomes our own and is part of English. Just as ‘macaroni,’ ‘sauerkraut,’ ‘banana,’ ‘chile,’ and ‘vanilla’ have become a part of our national diet, so too have the words become ingested in the common tongue. The new word of today becomes the familiar word of tomorrow.” Robert C. Pooley, “One People, One Language,” as quoted in The Ordeal of American English 57, 58 (C. Merton Babcock ed., 1961).

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One Response to Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sanatorium; sanitorium; *sanatarium; *sanitarium.

  1. Kathleen says:

    While the languages termed “English” (there are significant variations of spelling, usage and pronunciation depending on where the person learned it) is able to absorb slang and satire that becomes common knowledge (truthiness and d’oh come to mind), we still do not have all bases covered.

    We miss out on the nuanced words that have meaning in their native tongue that do not translate into English. That’s were English becomes flexible and indirectly teaches us about other cultures.

    Even so, I still think we should learn a second language of some sort because of globalization.

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