I started seeing the word revert in e-mails: Please revert. At first, I was very confused by it, since the context was sufficiently vague for me to wonder if we were supposed to go back to an old version of a document. Then it became clear that the word was intended to mean reply: I will revert back to you …
This use of revert was exclusive to European colleagues and clients, and I found examples in my e-mails back to June 2013. But recently, I’ve heard some of my US-based colleagues use it.
This use does not appear in most dictionaries I’ve examined. And the really, really puzzling thing is that the one entry I’ve found marks that particular use as a US use. That is most astounding to me. I would have expected to see it marked rather as a UK use.
Revert in the Collins dictionary (see entry 4.)
Am I just disoriented?
Apparently controversies over this have been going on for some years. This 1997 book ridicules this usage as rogue.
Another dictionary listing here– but they call it “Indian English, rather formal”
(References to Indian English are numerous enough, but ‘formal’ ? No.)
I have never seen this usage, or did but ignored it as error. One thing about dictionaries though, is their pontificating should all be taken with many grains of salt.
Who uses revert to mean reply?
People who don’t know what “revert” means.
Dutch speakers frequently use “revert” it in English. I thought it was because they think it better translates the Dutch term, but on reflection I don’t even think that is the case. And they say not only “revert to me” (or worse, “revert back to me”) but just straight “please revert” as well.
Another thing they use is to “come back to” as in “I’ll come back to you about that” or “‘I’ll come back to you with the answer” where I would say “get back to you” – do you guys here both “come” and “get back to”?
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