Friday, June 18, 2010

perquisite; prerequisite

From Garner's Usage Tip of the Day

"Perquisite" (often shortened to "perk") = a privilege or benefit given in addition to one's salary or regular wages {executive perquisites such as club memberships}.

"Prerequisite" = a previous condition or requirement {applicants must satisfy all five prerequisites before being interviewed}.

Although Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says there is "almost no evidence of the words' being interchanged," the confusion certainly does occur -- e.g.:

  • "Have executive salaries, bonuses and other corporate prerequisites [read 'perquisites'] been cut, or will the proposed rate increase maintain them?" "Sorry, Wrong Numbers," Wash. Post, 11 July 1993, at C8.

  • "Then, it needs to start selling permanent seat licenses, luxury boxes and club seats, all the wonderful prerequisites [read 'perquisites' or 'perks'] an NFL owner requires." Ken Rosenthal, "Forget Legal Avenues, Take Baltimore's Route to NFL," Baltimore Sun, 30 Nov. 1995, at D1.

  • "The five-year contract has an effective date of March 1. In addition to salary, it also provides for negotiated prerequisites [read 'perquisites' or 'perks'] and compensation features." Doug Hensley, "Tech, Dickey Agree to $ 1 Million Deal," Amarillo Daily News, 7 May 1996, at D1.

  • "Job descriptions are detailed and present information on duties, salaries, prerequisites [read 'perquisites'], employment and advancement opportunities, relevant organizations, and special advice for getting into the desired field." Kent Anderson, Book Rev., School Arts, 1 Dec. 1996, at 46.