Updated 14 September, 2022: Let’s have a look at the commonly confused premier vs premiere. Today I was reviewing writing samples for a business writing seminar when I read the phrase “one of the country’s premiere spa resorts.”
Premiere? I liked the sound and sense of the word to describe a spa resort, but I wasn’t sure about the spelling. What do you think? Premiere or premier?
As usual, the experts gathered on my bookshelf do not agree completely, but the clear preference for the use in my sample phrase is premier.
Premiere vs. Premiere
If you would like to refresh yourself on the spellings and meanings of the two forms, here is what the excellent Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, offers:
Premier as an adjective means “first in position, rank, or importance” (like the premier spa resort) and “first in time, earliest.”
Premier as a noun is cross-referenced to “prime minister.”
Premiere is listed as an adjective and cross-referenced to premier. So that version, premiere, is correct for the spa resort too.
Premiere the noun is “a first performance or exhibition of” or “the chief actress of a theatrical cast.”
Premiere the verb is “to have a first public performance” or “to appear for the first time as a star performer.”
What Do They Style Guides Say?
The American Heritage College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, generally agrees with Merriam-Webster’s on this topic, but it adds a definition for the adjective form premiere: “first or paramount; premier.”
The wonderfully opinionated Garner’s Modern American Usage, Third Edition, finds premier “often pretentious in place of first or foremost.” (Often pretentious perhaps, but I think it works for a spa hotel.) However, Garner emphatically states that premier is the adjective form, and premiere the noun.
The AP Stylebook doesn’t discuss premier except as the title of a political leader, and The Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t mention either version.
After reviewing my best reference books, I will grant that both words may be used to describe the spa hotel. But I choose premier.
Here are some examples of both words being used in the media:
Woman in Gold is released in cinemas next month, but at its premiere in Berlin the Austrian reviewers were generous about its portrayal of a national reluctance to face the art crimes of the past, according to playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell, who wrote the screenplay. – The Guardian
Powerball sales this year are running 40 percent ahead of last year. They are the premier example of the national trend toward bigger prizes and more gambling venues. – The New York Times
Have you researched any words lately? Please share.