Commonly Confused Words: Premier and Premiere

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The words premier and premiere are related in meaning—but they're not interchangeable.

Definitions

As an adjective, premier means earliest or first in rank or importance. The noun premier refers to a prime minister or the head of a state, province, or territory.

The noun premiere refers to the first performance (of a play, for example). Premiere is similarly used as a verb, meaning to give a first public performance, though some style guides regard this usage as jargon.

 (See the usage notes below.)

Examples

  • "Years ago, the Mormon Church took up the task of collecting resources to help anyone, church members or not, find their family trees. The Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, where hundreds of thousands of documents are cataloged, is known among professional genealogists as the premier site for such research."
    (Lisa Guernsey, "The Line Is Out the Door at a Genealogy Library." The New York Times, May 27, 1999)
  • The prime minister was briefed on the case before meeting the Spanish premier.
  • The premier attended the premiere of the new Spielberg movie.
  • The Bayreuth Festival began with the world premiere of the Ring cycle in 1876.
  • Former Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie premiered her new video over the weekend
     

Usage Notes

"If you want to remember the difference between premier and premiere, you might associate the one that ends with an e with entertainment—an opening of a movie or play.

If the word needed in a certain passage doesn't have to do with an opening, you know it should be premier—the word without the e at the end." (Brian S. Brooks, et al., Working With Words: A Handbook for Media Writers and Editors. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006)

Premiere as a Verb

"In entertainment contexts, the verb premiere has become the standard way of saying 'to introduce to the public,' or 'to be introduced to the public.' Since it seems always to imply newness, premiere is frequently used in advertising.

Thus a movie can premiere in selected theaters, and a year later it can 'premiere' to a different audience on television. The verb first came out in the 1930s and acceptance of it in general usage has been slow. In 1969, only 14 percent of the Usage Panel accepted it. Nineteen years later, however, when asked to judge the example The Philharmonic will premiere works by two young Americans, 51 percent of the Panelists accepted this usage. But only 10 percent of the Panelists in the 1988 survey accepted the extension of the verb to contexts outside of the entertainment industry, as in Last fall the school premiered new degree programs.
(The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

"Premiere means first performance or showing. As a verb (the show premiered or the orchestra premiered the piece), the word is jargon to be avoided."
(Allan M. Siegal et al., The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, rev. ed. Three Rivers Press, 2015) 

Practice

(a) The movie had its _____ in Cannes.

(b) The _____ is scheduled to deliver her annual policy report to the legislature on Friday.

(c) Though the Hudson River gets most of the attention, the East River is New York City's _____ waterway.

Answers to Practice Exercises: Premier and Premiere

(a) The movie had its premiere in Cannes.

(b) The premier is scheduled to deliver her annual policy report to the legislature on Friday.

(c) Though the Hudson River gets most of the attention, the East River is New York City's premier waterway.

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Commonly Confused Words: Premier and Premiere." ThoughtCo, May. 8, 2018, thoughtco.com/premier-and-premiere-1689470. Nordquist, Richard. (2018, May 8). Commonly Confused Words: Premier and Premiere. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/premier-and-premiere-1689470 Nordquist, Richard. "Commonly Confused Words: Premier and Premiere." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/premier-and-premiere-1689470 (accessed May 24, 2018).