Entries linking to immunize
mid-15c., "free, exempt" (from taxes, tithes, sin, etc.), from Latin immunis "exempt from public service, untaxed; unburdened, not tributary," literally "not paying a share," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + munis "performing services" (compare municipal), from PIE *moi-n-es-, suffixed form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move." Specific modern medical sense of "exempt (from a disease)," typically because of inoculation, is from 1881, a back-formation from immunity. Immune system attested by 1917.
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 October 19, 2015