Maybe it’s the kinds of people I keep company with. I know, and have worked with, a lot of wonderful coaches, therapists, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts. But of all the spelling controversies I run across, the most heated I’ve encountered is about the spelling of extravert.
Or is it extrovert?
Well, I have good news.
According to Grammarphobia.com: Both spellings are correct.
Says Grammarphobia, the word showed up in the 1600s to describe a chemical property, and in the early 1900s to describe a psychological characteristic. Back then, it was spelled with an “a.” Then, around 1916, it began being spelled with an “o.” Nowadays, the most common spelling is with an “o,” but many psychological professionals and researchers prefer to spell it with an “a.”
If you dig this kind of detail as much as I do, I encourage you to read the whole article.
Meanwhile, which spelling should you use?
Here are a few guidelines I like to follow:
Who will be reading? Will it be a wide, popular readership? Or will you be writing to psychological professionals? What do your readers read? What are their interests?
Where did you find the information you’re writing about? Who are your teachers? Who are the researchers on which your own writing depends? On whose shoulders do you stand? Spell it the way they do.
Use the publication’s style guide.
If you’re writing as a guest for someone’s blog or publication, ask the owner or person-in-charge if they have a style guide or preference for which spelling to use.
If you still don’t know…
Maybe your audience could be on either side of the fence. Maybe your sources spell it both ways. Maybe you don’t have a style guide.
Don’t worry! Choose the spelling that fits closest and use it consistently, and you’ll stand a pretty good chance of being “right.”