Is "extrovert" bad latin (as opposed to extravert)?

This is for the Latin experts of the dope. Extroverted/extraverted and introverted are from the writings of Carl Gustav Jung. Extrovert is much more used than extraverted. It definitely seems like extroverted is used by the general public, and extraverted only by orthodox jungians (warning, PDF).

I recall I read some time very long ago somebody (a jungian no doubt) wrote that extraverted is the correct term, because it is a jungian term and Jung said extraverted is correct. There was a letter from an American jungian he or she referred to, where Jung was asked which was correct, and his secretary wrote back to the American (something like): “Dr Jung says it should be extraverted, because extrovert is bad latin.”

Of course Jung knew latin very well, being a doctor from the time doctors knew latin and reading latin alchemical texts like the rest of us are reading Dan Brown if nothing else, but since extraverted never caught on, I need to take this to the Latin lovers of the dope.

Is, in fact, extrovert bad latin?

For what it’s worth, the French term is “extraverti”. I don’t know how they say it in other languages.

So is splitting an infinitive, but that doesn’t make it wrong in English. Latin is a different language and how things are done in it is a point of interest, but not a guide to correct English usage or spelling.

Extro- is not a Latin construction, but that’s absolutely irrelevant.

“Euphony beats grammar every time”, at least according to my Spanish Language teachers. It beats philology as well: the general form of the Latin prefix is extra-, yes, but even if we were speaking Latin rather than English, sometimes changing a sound makes a word or a sentence flow better. The change may have happened “by mistake” at first, but hey, if the “mistaken” version works better, why not use it?

There you go, talking sense again.:dubious:


Yeah, but how is extrovert more euphonic? I think it more likely just came from introvert, so that only the first two letters are changed. Heck, perhaps people thought -trovert was the root, rather than just vert.

The online etymology dictionary agrees with me, at least on the first part.

I pronounce “extrovert” as EX-tra-vert. So, there you go. It might be euphonious in Spanish, but not in English.

The two versions exist, tho, so what I’d say is that you’re using extravert.

I didn’t mean that the reason the change came to be was “someone thought it sounded better this way”, but that changing a letter here and there is a normal part of language evolution, and reinforcing what RelityChuck said, that Latin rules don’t necessarily apply to English. If everybody who ever uses a word derived from Latin had to use that word IN Latin, well heck, there went the whole Romance family of languages!

FTR, Spanish has both versions as well, but it’s not a common word. People without degrees in Psychology are more likely to use other words.

What I mean with “good” or “bad” latin is not whether it is “right” or “wrong” to say this or that in English. My question was assuming that you wanted to use the “correct” *latin *spelling (as far as it goes) in otherwise English, or German, or Swedish (my native language) for that matter language. – Also, the question is only out of curiosity, I don’t care which is used.

Thank you for your (as always) interesting answers.

The second syllable in ‘extravert’/‘extrovert’ is unstressed, |ˈɛkstrəˌvərt|, so euphony is not at work here. I would suggest the reason is more because of a trend toward consistency. The last two syllables of ‘introvert’ sound the same, so why spell them differently?

Another potential influence might be that the word ‘avert’ means to avoid, which most extraverts do not do, and ‘overt’ is something many extraverts are. :slight_smile:

But seriously, I did a quick dictionary search for words ending in ‘-avert’ vs. ‘-overt’:
% grep ‘avert$’ /usr/share/dict/words
% grep ‘overt$’ /usr/share/dict/words

‘Tavert’ is a bloody obscure Scottish word that isn’t even in my main dictionary. English clearly has a bias toward ‘o’ here.

Does anyone spell introvert “intravert”? Would that be more consistent with Latin too?

“Extravert” is the worst kind of wrong: it’s pedantically incorrect. Like saying “Whom brought the Whoppers Junior to Jane and I?”


Orthodox Jungian’s would only want to spell it with an A…since Jung himself spelled it that way and the personality concept is his. I couldn’t stand to see it any other way!