Premier vs. Premiere: How to Choose the Right Word

World Leader or New Play?

premier League

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The words "premier" and "premiere" are related in meaning—but they're not interchangeable. "Premier," which entered the English language first, originated with the Latin word primarius, meaning "principal." "Premiere," which didn't enter the English language until the 19th century, comes from France.

How to Use "Premier"

The word "premier" can be used as a noun or an adjective. As a noun, it relates to heads of state; many nations, including China, Korea, Belize, and Bermuda, have premiers rather than presidents, kings, or emperors. As an adjective, "premier" means the best, top-notch, or first in rank; for example, "the Smithsonian Institution is America's premier museum," or "New York is the premier location for top-quality theater."

How to Use "Premiere"

Traditionally, the word "premiere" has been used as a noun, meaning "a first public performance" ("the premiere of the newest Disney movie." Since the 1930s, however, the word has gained traction as a verb with essentially the same meaning: "the new Disney movie will premiere in Los Angeles"). Because the word "premiere" invariably relates to a production of some sort, it is very often used in advertising. The word, of course, implies "newness," but it is possible to premiere a play, which then premieres as a movie and then later premieres as a television production. "Premiere" is less often used to describe the first appearance of an actor or actress ("Bill Smith's premiere performance").

Examples

The following examples make it clear that "a" premier is a political leader, a person place or thing described as "premier" is the best of its kind, and a premiere is an event.

  • The prime minister was briefed on the case before meeting the Spanish premier. (The Spanish premier is the head of his country.)
  • The premier attended the premiere of the new Spielberg movie. (The head of a country attended the first showing of a movie.)
  • This remarkable vineyard makes a premier chablis. (In this sentence the word "extraordinary" or "excellent" could be substituted for "premier.")
  • The Bayreuth Festival began with the world premiere of the Ring cycle in 1876. (In this case "premiere" is used to describe the "first ever" presentation of a set of operas.)
  • Former Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie premiered her new video over the weekend. (In this case "premiere" is used as a verb meaning "showed for the first time.")
  • Joe Smith premiered in the move "Death By Accident;" he later appeared in a long series of murder mysteries. (In this sentence, the word "premiere" is used to mean "appeared for the first time.")

How to Remember the Difference

One of the best ways to choose correctly between "premiere" and "premier" is to connect the E at the end of "premiere" with the idea of entertainment, which begins with an E. If the subject at hand is the opening of some type of production, such as a play or movie, choose the word that ends with the letter E. If not, choose "premier," the word without an E at the end.

Sources

  • “Premiere.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/premiere.
  • “Premier vs. Premiere: What's the Difference?” Writing Explained, 24 Oct. 2015, writingexplained.org/premier-vs-premiere-difference.