Some speakers hate to hear people use the word prioritize, complaining that “it’s a made-up word that shouldn’t be used.”
Prioritize is a fairly new word, coined in the 1950s, and growing in popularity since the early 1960s. Speakers use it to mean:
to give priority to
to designate something as worthy of special attention
to arrange items to be dealt with in order of importance
to establish priorities
to establish priorities for a set of tasks
Here are some examples of its use online:
KMT, CCP agree to prioritize service trade agreement
How to Prioritize Your Debts
Council Approves Two Projects That Prioritize Pedestrian and Bike Safety
Four Must Know To-Do Lists To Prioritize Tasks
Strengthening parliaments in nascent democracies: the need to prioritize legislative reforms
As late as 1982, twenty years after prioritize entered the language, the OED acknowledged its existence, but included an apologetic note, saying, “prioritize is a word that at present sits uneasily in the language.”
Thirty-two years later, the OED site employs the word prioritizing unapologetically in a discussion of the term “network neutrality”:
This concept [network neutrality] has been the subject of much debate in recent years, reflecting something axiomatic for many Internet users; that all data on the net should be treated equally by Internet service providers, without favouring particular formats, products, or web sites by charging extra fees, prioritizing or blocking data of certain types, and so on.
Speakers who still want to hold the line against prioritize could replace it with the phrase “to set priorities”:
KMT, CCP agree to set service trade agreement priorities
Council Approves Two Projects that set Priorities for Pedestrian and Bike Safety
How to set priorities for your debts
People who don’t like prioritize shouldn’t use it, but trying to stop other people from using it is futile. I’ll be happy to recommend a much more worthy target of opprobrium. How about the use of gift as a verb when we already have the perfectly serviceable word give:
Lands gifted by donors are the foundation of SSU Preserves programs.
The Greeks have gifted the world with many things.
Teradata in the fall of 2010 gifted the Walton College of Business with a new Teradata 2650 system.
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