Getting a Raise and Getting a Rise

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Natasha asks:

What is the difference between rise and raise? As far as I understand, they both have to do with an increase, but they are also supposed to be different. Is that correct?

The words raise and rise have numerous meanings, both as verbs and as nouns.

Some common meanings of rise as a noun:

“a movement upward”
Ex. The world watched his rise to power.

“the reaching of a higher level by an increase of quantity or bulk”
Ex. The rise of the river provoked concern.

“an upward slope”
Ex. We walked as far as the rise.

“an irritated response to provocation”
Ex. Your last remark sure got a rise out of him.

“the distance from the crotch to the waistline on pants; the distance above the waistline on skirts”
Ex. The tailor measured the rise.

One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of raise as a noun is “an increase in wages or salary.” British speakers, however, would refer to such an increase as a “rise.”

Writing for British readers, Paul MacKenzie-Cummins heads his article with the title “Get a Salary Rise: Six Tips.”

Writing for speakers of U.S. English, Dawn Rosenberg McKay heads a similar article with the title “How to Ask for a Raise.”

Both U. S. and British usage would find the following headline acceptable:

Experts Predict a Rise in Salaries

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5 thoughts on “Getting a Raise and Getting a Rise”

  1. I’m no grammar buff, but as simple verbs, I believe “rise” is an intransitive verb and “raise” is a transitive verb, both of which mean to increase or move up.

  2. However, I think there is another meaning to ‘getting a rise’ in American parlance. When used with the phrase “out of someone” I have understood the expression ‘getting a rise’ to mean to taunt/tease someone enough to provoke a response. GoEnglish.com defines the phrase as succeeding in bothering a person.

  3. … and, of course, the word “raze” which is from a completely different stem, but pronounced the same way & means more or less the opposite – as you “raze to the ground” (i.e. flatten / burn down / do something destructive)

    I guess that must be very confusing to those who’ve never seen the word written (or even if they have!) as it apparently contradicts the idea of going upwards!

  4. An interesting post, especially the headline at the end. I would think if it read ‘Experts predict salaries to rise’, it wouldn’t cause anyone any trouble.

    All in all, it reminds me of the old (UK English) cartoon, in which the dialogue went something like:

    ‘The expression, Jenkins, is a rise in salary, rather than a raise, although I prefer increase. Anyway, the answer is ‘no’.

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