Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dictionary Foolishness: Everybody and Everyone

I attempted to research any difference between everybody and everyone today. I discovered a curious thing: Merriam-Webster each of these terms by using the other. Everyone is defined as “every person: everybody” while everybody displays an even more succinct definition of “everyone”. defines both as “every person”. From everything else that I read, writers make no distinction in use between the two. Both are indefinite pronouns. The only difference I could uncover was that everyone originated in the 1100s and everybody dates back to the 1500s.

I find no reason to believe that one or the other works in more formal writing. If you seek a formal version, try using the word each, instead. Each person or one or student means the same as everybody, as well.

Which term you choose depends solely on your preference. All of these terms work the same, to indicate a single person in a group without specifying which one is meant. Everybody knows that, and everyone has his or her own writing style. Each of us may avoid the entire question by writing in the second person. All of you can do that, can't you?