"LET US GIVE the birthday celebrator a big hand of applause!"

Oops! Wait! Did I hear it right? Birthday Celebrator?

I am quite sure some of you have already heard this from a party host and definitely gave him or her a puckered brow. But after recovering from disbelief, you probably have asked yourself whether you were right and he was wrong, or the other way around. There was a bit of doubt and confusion as to what term should be used – celebrator or celebrant? “Celebrant” perhaps is the term we have been accustomed to and using “celebrator” would be a new thing for us.

My initial encounter with “celebrator” was during one of my bosses’ birthday party. Somebody kept on addressing him as birthday celebrator which forced me in my annoyance to ask my immediate boss about it. My immediate boss said that “celebrator” was used since the term “celebrant” should only be used for a priest who performs a religious ceremony.

Another encounter was at a girlfriend’s birthday party. One of our countless discussions went into the direction of English usage particularly grammar, spelling, and the like. The dilemma regarding the use of “celebrator and celebrant” was once again brought up. Each of us shared some of our knowledge and ended up with a unanimous decision that both words are similar and can be used interchangeably.

But, since I wanted to know if we were right in our decision that the words are synonyms, I checked out some definition sources.

From YourDictionary.com, “Celebrant” was defined as a person who performs a religious rite, as the priest officiating at mass and any person who celebrates; celebrator. From Merriam Webster online, “Celebrant” was defined as one who engages in merrymaking especially in honor of a special occasion; synonymous with celebrator, merrymaker, reveler (or reveller), roisterer. Hence, it seems that the two terms are indeed interchangeable.

But perhaps, it would be better to use “Celebrant” as people are more used to hearing and using it and use “Celebrator” in moderation. Otherwise, use “birthday boy” or “birthday girl” instead to make it simple. The simpler the word, the better and the less would be the complications .

So the next time you see someone frown upon hearing the word “Celebrator”, be ready to use your stock knowledge to enlighten them on the controversy.

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