Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I want to know if we have "postponer" in English or not? Microsoft Word underlines this word as incorrect word; but when I search in Google, some online dictionaries have this word.

Can I use this word in English?

share|improve this question
1  
I found it here: oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/…. (Though I'm more familiar with another word "procrastinator"). –  Damkerng T. May 13 at 14:14
    
Thanks a lot for your suggestion :) –  Potential Scientist May 13 at 16:21

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

As you note, postponer is in some dictionaries, such as the Oxford Dictionary of English.

However, I don't imagine that most people know the word. We all have mental dictionaries with a set of words and phrases, their meanings, and how they're used, and for most people postponer probably isn't in this dictionary. It's simply not common enough yet. Damkerng's suggestion of procrastinator is more well known.

That said, the suffix -er is productive, so you can derive postponer from postpone. And anyone you're talking to can do the same, so they'll be able to understand it just fine, assuming it makes sense in context. (Unfortunately, since we have no context here, we can't tell whether it makes sense or is appropriate.)

Since it's not an established derivation, it's possible some people will think it sounds funny or informal. Whether it's appropriate in a particular context is a judgment you'll have to make.


Microsoft Word's spell checker compares what you write to a dictionary. No spell checker will know every word you use; if you know a word is legitimate, ignore the red underline and move on. Technology has its limits.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks a lot for your answer :) –  Potential Scientist May 13 at 16:21
    
Postponer (one who delays or postpones some action) is certainly a legitimate word, though uncommon enough to cause some head-scratching when you use it. Since most people will have to think for a moment to come up with what it means, I would avoid using it (unless you want to cause your audience to pause like that). –  Phil Perry May 13 at 16:52
    
"if you know a word is legitimate, ignore the red underline and move on." Generally speaking, I'd suggest adding words you know are legitimate to the spelling dictionary rather than just ignoring them. This is a really good idea if you use that particular word often. –  trlkly Aug 8 at 8:44

One of English's virtues is that it is very malleable. Or adaptable. If you follow the few rules about prefixes and suffixes, you can put things together however you like and have it be 'valid' English. See Antidisestablishmentarianism. Out of 28 letters, only 9 come from the root word. The rest of the letters come from prefixes and suffixes. You can even take nouns and use them as verb, if you so choose. i.e: "Did you Google it?"

With that in mind, saying that someone who postpones is a postponer seems wholly correct.

That said, I have to disagree with what was said here. Procrastinate is almost certainly not the word you want to use instead of postponer. Procrastinate means to "put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness". Someone who does that is a procrastinator.

On the other hand, to postpone means to "delay until a future time; put off".

So for example: Imagine it was raining during a soccer game and it is your job decide if there was too much rain. If you decided to call the game and reschedule it for a later date, you would be postponing the game. You would be a postponer. But, in no way, shape, or form would you be procrastinating. The "habitual" and "laziness" aspects are inseparable from procrastinating. But postpone doesn't have any connotations like that at all.

share|improve this answer
    
+1. You bring up a valid point: postponer and procrastinator don't necessarily have the same meaning. Unfortunately, whether one word, the other, or both are appropriate is something we cannot tell without context. (My original answer didn't even attempt to give an alternative, only to describe whether postponer was acceptable; I added it as an afterthought upon seeing Damkerng's comment, as I thought it was a reasonable suggestion, although of course it's up to the OP to decide what's appropriate in context.) –  snailplane May 13 at 21:47

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.