Premise vs. Premises in the Cloud

With all of the research I’ve been doing for our latest book:  Cloud Computing for Dummies, I’ve noticed something very disturbing.  Maybe it’s because I come from a telecommunications background, that this bothers me so much – but has anyone else noticed that people are misusing the word premise when describing aspects of the cloud?  I keep reading articles and blogs where an author refers to an “on premise” solution.  The proper term is premises as in – on your premises (see below).

From Dictionary.com

Premise:  a proposition supporting or helping to support a conclusion.

Premises:  a tract of land including its buildings.

 Even vendors in the space are making this mistake.  It’s appalling.  I could list dozens of examples of this error.  Has the definition of the word changed and I’m missing something?  Or, has the word been used incorrectly so many times that it doesn’t matter anymore?

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23 Responses

  1. Ditto for the words sex vs gender. I guess majority rules in these things.

    Apparently Web 2.0 (http://tinyurl.com/n48e5c) was just crowned the one millionth word in the English language by a group called The Global Language Monitor. It got there by sheer force. There is some dispute as to how this all works but since no one controls language, common usage will over rule the grammarians every time. Don’t tell your English teacher!

    Check out the story though, apparently “cloud computing” is now on the list. My problem with that of course is that “cloud computing” is a concept comprised of two words and not a word in and of itself. Oh well!

    Jim Catalano

  2. I’m a lawyer for a state agency in Tennessee, and I hear people misuse this word every day. I can understand why they’d make this mistake, but it makes me cringe nevertheless.

    I think what will happen is that premise will become an acceptable, singular form of premises. The speed of communication and the tendency people have nowadays to dismiss prescriptivists like me as pedants will ensure that this is the case. Meaning is not prescribed. It’s determined by consensus.

  3. You are probably correct. Tower of Babel, here we come!

  4. [...] with Judith Hurwitz, Robin Bloor and Marcia Kaufman.  I did, however, post a short blog about premise vs. premises, which I urge anyone involved in Cloud Computing to [...]

  5. According to all the good dictionaries I’ve come across, premise and premises are totally two different words and are not at all related to each other. Undoubtedly, many English users have mistaken that premise is the singular form. However, I can assure all English users that premises is a plural noun and stays plural all the time. It has NO singular form.

  6. People is the security system industry are constantly referring to the “protected premise” which actually means the assumption of protection. This is the opposite of what they intended to state.

  7. I’ve noticed this, and to my collegues dismay have been on a relentless campaign to correct people everytime I see/hear people using the wrong word. I’ve also noticed that 9 times out of ten, when I point it out, people role their eyes and/or mumble “whatever.”
    Glad to see that I’m not the only one out there!

  8. This drives me crazy!! I am a writer for the IT industry and I see this mistake made almost every day.

  9. You are right that it’s appalling. I just found your page by looking for something to quote to make the same point in a technical document that I’m editing. Hear ye, hear ye, all editors and intelligent speakers of English: Don’t let “on premise” become acceptable! The people selling software and hardware solutions already have so much jargon that they are drowning in their own spit. Stem the tide! Keep to the righteous path! “On-premises” or bust!

  10. Add a court reporter (stenographer) being driven pretty nuts by this error too…and OFTEN and CONSISTENTLY in testimony from water company witnesses appearing before the commission whose proceedings I cover! I’ve gone so far as to add “[sic]” in my transcripts, both out of frustration and a tiny, squeaking hope that it might cause some of these folks to check that meaning. And I keep checking just to make sure it hasn’t been amended yet to comport with the new usage, because if the misuse continues that will surely follow. In the meantime, however, it is still a misuse.

  11. I’ve had editors change on-premises to on-premise with a comment that it may be technically correct but readers prefer on-premise. And I have had other editors argue for on-premises. I have decided I will always write on-premises and let them “correct” it if they must. If on-premise were in any way cool, I would probably endorse it, but it seems just dumb. Cheers!

  12. I first heard this misuse at TechEd 2009, it was very annoying. I couldn’t concentrate on any of the actual content.

  13. I concur. And don’t start me on the flagrant abuse (well beyond misuse)of reflexive pronouns (myself instead of me). Sadly, the ‘adoption’ of misuse reflects the consensus of the masses.

  14. Too funny. I’m reading Network World, and On-Premise is misused all over the magazine. It bothere me when I saw it, and had to look it up to make sure I wasn’t confused about the proper use of premise and premises. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one out there noticing this. Maybe I was an Editor in a past life?

  15. @Rebeca, glad to hear you have the same experience… that whatever sounds familiair to me.

  16. My company, which is an IT security vendor, is using the incorrect version because, I was told, “it is so widely used”. They won’t let me correct it and it’s certainly cringe-worthy. To me, it’s like hearing a clunker in a familiar song and being told it’s going to sound like that from now on so you’d better get used to it!

  17. I am so glad I’m not the only one to see this and wonder how it got past an editor. I am rallying our director to my side. Common usage is a lame excuse for such an obvious error.

  18. Hi Everyone – I’ve taken this on a my personal mission. Can we band together and share fbhapler’s blog with other influencers? Will you join me in this worthy endeavor? Take the pledge: “I am an intelligent IT Professional and I pledge to use the correct term when describing where a solution is hosted.” We can do this!

  19. Fern, I was just hunting for the solution to the on-premise vs on-premises question, and here you are showing up in my search window with the answer I needed. :-) Thanks!

  20. It is on-premises or in the cloud, not “premises in the cloud.” Google “on premises vs cloud” and them maybe you will understand the error in your title. Many engineers use the term on-prem, but I’m sure that would completely throw you off! Those of us in technical fields use shorten terms and acronyms (like DNS, DHCP, SFP, DRS, etc.). I know technical jargon is difficult for those of you with MBAs instead of real degrees in a field like engineering.

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