Extravert or Extrovert? Does it matter? My 3 reason for being contrary

jungA woman who comment on an article I wrote called 7 awesome traits of the introvert stated that she “loved” the article, but noted I misspelled “extrovert.”

I understand her confusion because there are two accepted spellings for this dichotomy on the introvert/extrovert spectrum of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The other is “extravert.” I prefer the latter.

I was aware of the two spellings before I began writing about introverts and extraverts. I was also aware that the “extrovert” spelling was the most common of the two. However, I made a conscious decision to run with the less common spelling.

Some would peg me as being a nonconformist or contrary. I began spelling the name of this dichotomy I think because “extra” means “outside” in Latin–as in outside oneself–and, most importantly, it was easier to remember.

However, the second reason is not a valid reason to spell a word a certain way, a way that is uncommon to most. So to justify my unconventional way of spelling this word, I decided to research the spelling of extravert/extrovert.

A fellow blogger, Bill McAneny, wrote on this a blog post on this topic, which appears first when you type in Google “extravert vs extrovert.” He defends his use “extravert” in his writing by quoting Carl Jung:

“Carl Gustav Jung first coined the terms and he was very clear:

Extraversion [sic] is characterized by interest in the external object, responsiveness, and a ready acceptance of external happenings, a desire to influence and be influenced by events, a need to join in…the capacity to endure bustle and noise of every kind, and actually find them enjoyable, constant attention to the surrounding world, the cultivation of friends and acquaintances… The psychic life of this type of person is enacted, as it were, outside himself, in the environment.

CJ Jung, Psychological Types, CW 6, pars. 1-7″

Further research on this subject–which now was becoming an obsession with me–led me to turn to Wikipedia, which uses “extraverstion” to describe the differences between the two dichotomies on the spectrum.

My search continued for a valid reason for the difference of spelling extravert.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers the “extrovert” spelling and “extravert” as an option. In other words, “extrovert” is the favorite child. I guess the dictionary has progressed to modern day times.

One blog claimed “extrovert” is bad Latin and recounts a story (hard to verify) where Jung was asked the question of which spelling is correct, to which Jung’s secretary replied on Jung’s behalf that “extrovert” is bad Latin.

The general feeling I get from this little issue is that the Latin spelling is being thrown out the window in favor of modern day jargon…rubbish.

At this point I’m thinking I’ve spent way too much time on this topic, and if you’ve read this far, you probably have better things to do. I have come up with three reasons why I will continue to write “extravert” rather than “extrovert”:

  1. I’ve spelled it this way in every post I’ve written and don’t feel like going through all of them and changing the spelling simply to satisfy people who don’t like it.
  2. It’s easy for me to remember…extra meaning “outside.”
  3. If it’s good enough for Carl Jung, it’s good enough for me.

These are my three reasons for being contrary. Next I’ll explain why I spell “jobseeker” and not “job seeker.” Or not.

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