What Do “Certified” And “Certificated” Mean?

There are many cases in English where it may seem like multiple forms of the same word, or a family of words means the same thing. Unfortunately, not all groups of similar words will have a similar meaning and can lead writers to make errors. With this in mind, what do “certified” and “certificate” mean? And can you use them interchangeably? 

What Does “Certified” Mean? 

Certified” is the past participle form of “certify.” Most common dictionaries agree that it means “to make certain” or “to be attested by a certificate.” For example:

  • Don’t worry, officer. I am forklift certified. 
  • As a certified officer of the law, I am obligated to protect others. 
  • You must have a certified check from your bank to make a payment. 

What Does “Certificated” Mean? 

Certificate” is a verb that has three main meanings. They are as follows: 

  • To attest something with a certificate
  • To authorize via a certificate 
  • To gift/award someone a certificate 

When To Use “Certificated” And “Certified”

It seems as though, in most instances, “certified” should be used to describe qualifications/attested knowledge, whereas “certificated” should belong in the educational world. Additionally, “certificated” is thought to have originated in British English. However, it has become more popular in American English throughout the years. 

Even though they sound like they came from the same word, “certified” was adapted from “certify,” whereas “certificated”  was adapted from “certificate.” 

If you are talking about someone qualified by a certain certificate, you should say they are “certified.” As a helpful tip, in most formal and informal writing forms, “certified” should be the word you use. Generally, “certificated” should only be used for specific instances in the world of education. 

Additionally, “certificated” also tends not to sound great to the average English speaker. It often can be clunky or “ugly,” so to speak, so you may just want to avoid using it altogether. 

Examples:

Foreign buyers, he says, seem prepared to pay extra for certified timber, making it even more attractive.But most timber felled in Amazonia is used in Brazil, so the growth of sustainable forestry and the decline of reckless chopping will depend on how quickly Brazilian consumers switch to demanding certified timber. – The Economist

Kimberly-Clark agreed to increase its use of recycled fiber, to use only Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, and to stop purchasing pulp from the 3m hectare Kenogami and Ogoki forests in northern Ontario that were the focus of Greenpeace’s campaign. – The Guardian

He rejected the suggestion, often made by UK manufacturers, that too little certificated oil was available. – Independent

“We need to understand how it can be that it was certificated and in fact it did not meet the standard,” he said. – The New York Times

Related: Certainty vs. Certitude 


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