Laser or Lazer?

As usual, the English language continues to have certain words whose meaning or spelling eludes us. However, in certain cases these questions are more interesting than they seem at first glance. Such is the case of today’s questions: what is the correct spelling of: lazer or laser?

Lasers used to be the stuff of science-fiction. They still reign there, but more modern technology has begun to use them. Our fascination and early knowledge still mostly originate from the worlds of fiction which might explain why so many people have come to spell lazer over laser. The letter z is one of those that is just everywhere in sci-fi. However in this case, that’s the wrong way to spell it.

Laser or Lazer?

To the question of lazer or laser we need to answer laser, every single time, in fact the word lazer isn’t even a word. Any reference to it you’ll find will only cover it as a misspelling of laser, so there’s definitely no room for questions or arguing with it. That does bring the question of what grammatical rule comes into play that gives laser the win in the battle of lazer or laser.

And the answer to this is well, none, the spelling of laser doesn’t come back to any etymological origins or deeper roots in the English language. Nor is it is written that way due to some obscure spelling rule, laser is just quite simply an acronym.

An acronym for those curious is a word that is formed by taking the first letters in a longer phrase, for example, the UN as an acronym of the United Nations. And for laser the word is an acronym of “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation” which refers to the way the beam of light is generated. So, in short, laser wasn’t really thought up originally as a real word. It was just an acronym that took off and happened to be easy enough to say in daily life.

That’s why in the matter of lazer or laser, we can never really use the spelling lazer. Regardless of how automatically it comes off the keyboard.


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