Perquisite or prerequisite?

24 Feb

I’m going to be honest here. I have only ever seen prerequisite written perquisite when the writer clearly meant the former. And I didn’t actually know what a perquisite was until I looked it up when I sat down to write this post. But just in case you ever need to know … here you go!

A prerequisite, which is the word I really feel most people will be looking for and using out of this pair, is a thing which is required or necessary as a prior condition to something else. So a prerequisite for working as a French teacher is the ability to speak French.  A prerequisite for being a proofreader is being able to spell. Oh, and it’s one word: no hyphen.

A perquisite, it turns out, is a special right or privilege that you enjoy as a result of  your position.  I would say a perquisite of being a freelancer is the ability to wear pyjamas all day, but I don’t think that’s what it’s really about: it’ll be something to do with those special rights to walk your sheep over London Bridge or some such. If anyone reading this actually HAS a perquisite, I’d love to know!

Stop press: My clever friend Jen pointed out – rightly – that the word perk comes from perquisite. A perk is a benefit to which one is entitled to as an employee (or shareholder) of a company and, by extension, a benefit or advantage that comes from a particular situation. I still miss my borrowing perks from when I worked at the library. Interestingly, the dictionary says that this is an abbreviation dating from the 19th century. Thanks, Jen!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “Perquisite or prerequisite?

  1. Jen

    February 24, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Perquisite is where we get perk from, as in ‘perks of the job’ I think?


  2. Liz at Libro

    February 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Ooh – aren’t you clever: yes, it is indeed! It’s a 19th century abbreviation apparently! I’ll amend the article to include that bit of info – thank you!



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