Adrenalin vs. adrenaline: Either way, it’s a stressful word.

In the course of doing a client project, I picked up a new-to-me usage pair that somehow–though I work with the topic of “stress” quite frequently for this long-time client–I’d never run across before.

Client’s original document contained the word adrenalin. I added an e at the end almost without thinking about it, then realized that MSWord had not actually flagged the e-less version of the word first. Yet, curiously, it also didn’t flag my new version.

A little poking around online revealed these are actually two different words though they might be considered twins of the fraternal variety:

adrenaline: (common noun) also known as epinephrine, a stimulating hormone that is released during fight-or-flight moments

Adrenalin: (proper noun, trademarked) a brand of synthetically produced epinephrine

Outside of these words’ spelling, capitalization, and usage differences, some authorities list a complicating factor: Epinephrine is a term that’s commonly used in the United States, while British doctors (and many others worldwide who communicate in British English) are more likely to say adrenaline.

We learn something every day, don’t we–even, apparently, during moments of high tension and anxiety!

Readers, has a fine shade of difference between two words or phrases surprised you lately–or continued to startle you years after you learned their difference? Share your discoveries in the Comments section.

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2 thoughts on “Adrenalin vs. adrenaline: Either way, it’s a stressful word.

  1. I tried to correct “nerve-racking” to “nerve-wracking,” and was surprised when the author pointed me to references showing that the former was correct. Still hard to wrap my head around, when all the books I read growing up had it with a “w!”

    1. Hello, Courtney B! First, my apologies. For whatever reason my website platform didn’t tell me your comment had been waiting for approval all these months. I just stumbled on it accidentally. (Grr. Technology. We love it…when it works.)

      “Nerve-racking” is a new one on me, too! I just did a quick search to see some of the opinions you read. It’s kind of a fascinating chase around and around. From the few I read, I get the impression it’s definitely not a closed question which one is correct in a modern sense. Readers: Here’s a short article that sums up some of the controversy neatly: .

      Don’t you love this stuff? Thanks for the quick etymological diversion, Courtney!

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