Entries linking to amortise
late 14c., amortisen, in law, "to alienate lands," also (c. 1400) "to deaden, destroy;" from Old French amortiss-, present-participle stem of amortir "deaden, kill, destroy; give up by right" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *admortire "to extinguish," from ad "to" (see ad-) + mortus "dead," from Latin mors "death" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm").
The literal sense "make dead" is obsolete in English. In reference to extinguishing a debt from early 19c. Related: Amortized; amortizing.
word-forming element used to make verbs, Middle English -isen, from Old French -iser/-izer, from Late Latin -izare, from Greek -izein, a verb-forming element denoting the doing of the noun or adjective to which it is attached.
The variation of -ize and -ise began in Old French and Middle English, perhaps aided by a few words (such as surprise, see below) where the ending is French or Latin, not Greek. With the classical revival, English partially reverted to the correct Greek -z- spelling from late 16c. But the 1694 edition of the authoritative French Academy dictionary standardized the spellings as -s-, which influenced English.
In Britain, despite the opposition to it (at least formerly) of OED, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Times of London, and Fowler, -ise remains dominant. Fowler thinks this is to avoid the difficulty of remembering the short list of common words not from Greek which must be spelled with an -s- (such as advertise, devise, surprise). American English has always favored -ize. The spelling variation involves about 200 English verbs.
updated on January 16, 2011