Re: Insure vs. Ensure

Subject: Re: Insure vs. Ensure
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 1996 09:22:00 EST

At 09:08 AM 9/26/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Recently had to look this up. Seems it is a matter of preference (or
>region) whether one uses "insure" instead of "ensure" or "assure". At least
>that's what the American Heritage usage note states!

Pet peeve alert. I'm afraid I'm stuck in precision mode most of the time
when I'm writing techie stuff, and to me "insure" means "to cover with
insurance" while "ensure" means "to make damned sure of it." I know the
newer, looser, freer American usage is to blur them, but I wouldn't do it on
a bet (unless the stakes were high enough).

We've run through these distinctions before, of words that are ostensibly
synonyms but have shading differences. "Push" and "press" come back to mind,
for example. "Help" and "assist". Ad infinitum.

Sometimes they're close enough to suit me, but often they're not. If I'm
writing for a funsy, more lackadaisical tone, I blur meanings too. But when
I'm writing for a technical user, I can get real anal real fast.

Note, however, that I wouldn't confuse "insure" and "ensure" even in fun.
Some things aren't funny, damn it!

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
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