Monday, June 30, 2008

"Insure" and "Ensure"

Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.

Question: Every once in a while I see the word "ensure" instead of "insure." Is there a difference?

Answer: Even I wasn't "sure" (pun) of this one. Took the explanation right from the NYT Manual of Style and Usage. "Insure" means to buy insurance. "Ensure" means to make certain. "His positive efforts ensured his success."

Rating of Distractibility: (*). The trouble is not many people know the difference and will use "insure" for everything, buying insurance and making certain. The word "ensure" does not appear in print very often. I have a feeling that only the New York Times's editors know the distinction. I'll have to check the Times some time to see if that august newspaper uses the word "ensure" at all.

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