Entries linking to equalize
late 14c., "identical in amount, extent, or portion;" early 15c., "even or smooth of surface," from Latin aequalis "uniform, identical, equal," from aequus "level, even, flat; as tall as, on a level with; friendly, kind, just, fair, equitable, impartial; proportionate; calm, tranquil," which is of unknown origin. Parallel formation egal (from Old French egal) was in use late 14c.-17c. Equal rights is from 1752; by 1854 in American English in reference to men and women. Equal opportunity (adj.) in terms of hiring, etc. is recorded by 1925.
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 September 03, 2014