English English language Spelling Usage

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

[An updated and expanded post on this subject appeared on Jan. 14, 2015.]

Q: Is the noun “résumé” (someone’s list of accomplishments) so ingrained in English that the accent marks are no longer needed? The only reason I can see for keeping them is so that the noun won’t be mistaken for the verb “resume” (meaning to begin again after an interruption).

A: The document that boasts of one’s accomplishments may be spelled in English either with or without accent marks, depending on which style manual or dictionary is the guide. But the most common spellings seem to use at least one accent. (In French, the word is spelled with acute accents over both e’s.)

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) lists the spellings in this order: “résumé” or “resume,” also “resumé.” (The wording indicates that the first two are equal in popularity, and the third is somewhat less common.)

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) lists the same spellings, but in reverse order: “resumé” or “resume” or “résumé.” (The wording indicates that the three are equally popular.)

The New York Times stylebook recommends using both accents. So take your pick! (Or opt for “curriculum vitae.”)

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