Disburse or disperse?

Subject: Disburse or disperse?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 09:09:10 -0400

Carol Rowles wondered: <<We are creating a form to be used to give leads (potential customers, not actual customers yet) to loan officers. We want to call it the Disburse/Disperse form. Which is correct.>>

Neither is correct, though disburse comes close. When you "disburse" something, you hand it out and distribute it, and the word is most commonly used for money; the word comes from the Latin for "out of your bag (i.e., your purse)". In contrast, "disperse" means to spread out or decrease the concentration of something; if you disperse a crowd, you make them go their separate ways.

The simplest thing to do is name the form based on what the reader hopes to accomplish with it. For example, give it a title "Contact information for potential loan applicants", then refer to it in verbal shorthand as the "Contact" form. See the basic approach? The first word (contact) is a verb that tells the reader what they'll do with the form; the rest of the title explains the contents of the form that will support that activity and the context.

If the form also contains instructions on how to use the information on the form, you could also try a name such as "Contracting potential loan applicants". This focuses more on the activity (contacting), but is a little more awkward to refer to; "the contacting form" sounds a bit odd, whereas "the contact form" doesn't use the same verb form (contact vs contacting) used in the title and is thus a bit more obscure.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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Disburse or Disperse: From: Rowles, Carol

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