comptroller was our Word of the Day on 02/06/2010. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
If you think "comptroller" looks like a mistaken spelling of "controller," you're partially right. Today, "comptroller" is an established word that shares one of its meanings (sense 3) with "controller." The term did originate as a misspelling, however. Around the 15th century, Middle English speakers altered the spelling of "conterroller" (meaning "controller," from the Middle French contrerolleur) under the influence of the Middle French word compte ("account"). The resulting word, "comptroller," has attracted criticism over the years. Grammarian Henry Fowler condemned "comptroller" as "not merely archaic, but erroneous" in 1920, and a lexicographical column from 1931 agreed that "comptroller" is "erroneous and should not be accepted as correct." Nevertheless, such modern institutions as colleges and governments continue to have comptrollers. "Comptrollership" occasionally turns up as well.
Origin and Etymology of comptroller
Middle English, alteration of countreroller controller
First Known Use: 15th century
COMPTROLLER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of comptroller for English Language Learners
: a person who is in charge of the financial accounts of a company or organization
Legal Definition of comptroller
: the head accounting officer of a company or government
Seen and Heard
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