premier or premiere?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My bosses and I just had a back-and-forth over whether it should be the "premier" issue or the "premiere" issue of our newest magazine.

As with most of our back-and-forths, we weren't quite sure either way and could only be certain that the required exhaustive research would be both time consuming and futile.

The adjective form of premier read:

3. first in rank; chief; leading.

4. first in time; earliest; oldest.


The adjective form of premiere read:
6. first; initial; principal:


That didn't help much...or at all. But further definitions explained that the adjective premier usually meant "most important" whereas premiere usually meant "inaugural."

Premiere seemed right, but we still weren't totally sure, so I checked on the AP Stylebook's "Ask an Editor" page (which is an invaluable [free] resource) to see if anyone had asked a similar question. They had:
What does AP style have to say about describing the first issue of a new magazine? Is it the premiere issue or the premier issue? Thanks very much. – from Sacramento, CA on Tue, Jun 19, 2007
We use "premiere" for a first.


But then I hate the AP and only defer to them when they're arguing for my side. Still, to stop with them felt dirty, so I googled some more and found this, the final nail in the coffin, ably provided by New York Magazine:
It was no mere typo. There must have been a conscious decision to use "premier" to describe the first issue of Condé Nast Portfolio, which nearly all copy editors, this reporter included, would have called a "premiere."


So, when you're referring to the inaugural issue of a magazine, you write premiere issue.


Or you could just write The inaugural issue. Either one is good.

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