Choose vs. Decide

Considering the difference between words that can be interchangeable may seem pedantic, until you realise that the words you use influence your thoughts as well as your actions.


The modern word decide comes from the latin decidere which means “to cut off.” When you are asked to decide something, you eliminate the other options.


Choose is derived from the Old English ceosan which means “seek out,” “taste”, “try” and “accept” and is closely related to the root word for gusto.


To choose suggests a scenario of abundance. You select from a wide array of options. Choosing is an energising activity.


With its relation to the words homicide, suicide and genocide, to decide is to strip away options and lean towards scarcity.


Test it for yourself. Think of a situation where you can make a selection and phrase it each way, thinking about how you feel about each. Does either word allow you to feel more or less in control of the selection? Do you feel your energy around the act of selecting (and the  consequence of your selection) increase or decrease depending on which word you use?


Interesting footnote: Society’s use of the word decide in publications has stayed fairly consistent for the past two hundred years, but in the fifty years between 1960-2010 the usage of the word choice doubled. The numbers suggest we are much more empowered about the way we handle our options in modern times.

H/T Seth Ellsworth

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