A History of the word Résumé: Derivation and Meaning

Today’s topic will look into the word Résumé through an etymological lens. We will explore the derivation to its ancient roots and how its meaning changed over time. 

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Résumé vs resume vs Resumé: Which word will win?

We guess your inner spelling bee is scratching your curiosity? So, we have prepared this battle to see which word makes it out to the top. In this triple three-way battle, we’ll crown the winner. After investigating some authoritative sources, we’ve come to conclude, it’s the first two! Okay, that was super quick, no fun! So, we will reveal our results in details to bring you the jam on a warm toast.

In Cambridge dictionary, we found them to employ the spelling with the French grave, those pronunciation markers used in French language. But they also mention the spelling “resume” as acceptable.


Won: Résumé & resume

In Oxford American Dictionary, we found them to use the ever-acceptable version with grave, but it also shows the less common spelled version Resumé along with resume as acceptable. PS, British usually use the term curriculum vitae when they are referring to Résumé/resume.

Won: All three won

In Merriam-webster, they state Résumé & resume are both acceptable but they describe resumé as less commonly used today.

Won: Résumé & resume

What is a resume and why do we use it?

The résumé, or resume as its commonly called, is an integral part of the job-seeking process. It's what you present to prospective employers in order to give them a sense of your experience and skills. The accurate dictionary meaning is "biographical summary of a person's career".

And yes, you can use both the version in your job application! The French originated word with grave “Résumé” or the modern truncated version without “resume”. But we recommend to see a job advertisement and see what spelling style they have used, basically what we are suggesting is mimic the word spelling they have used! They might be a grammar buff, you never know.

Are you curious how to bring grave on your MS Word document or Mac pages?

For English users both windows and Mac have a simple shortcut to get those graves employed in your writing. As you can imagine, since grave are naturally used in French language, so French keyboards are more naturally designed and hard buttoned with them, instead of the shortcut method which the English keyboard users employ. See some sample image below.

For windows: CTRL + ‘(apostrophe, left button next to enter) + e

For Mac: (The option key + e) + e

Google docs: Go to Inset > Special characters > Latin

English keyboard

French keyboard

The metamorphosis of the word resume as changed over centuries

The word resume comes from French word "résumé " which means "to sum up”, in Latin the equivalent word “resumere” means to “take again, take up again”." However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that résumés became commonplace. Prior to this time period, résumés were generally used by academics who would compile lists of their publications for potential academies requesting information about their work. But now it is used by everyone who is applying for a job, it condenses their entire professional career encompassing their past and current work experience, the skills they’ve acquired and turn them into an experience summary document to demonstrate their suitability for the vacant job position.

Plenty of resume resources for you!

Quite certainly, a resume objective or a professional profile is the most challenging material to write in a resume. If you’re keen to find the magic wand that can give you simple formula to write a compelling resume introduction, you can explore our topic here.

Looking to write a resume with no experience? Well, we have that covered too! We have covered a vast range of materials on this topic, suited to high school students or recent graduates looking to break into the professional work force.

Maybe you're looking for some expert tips on how to write like a writer and create your own story in your Cover Letter! Head over here now, we promise you boat load of joy once you’re done writing yours.






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A History of the word Résumé: Derivation and Meaning
4.59 11

Areli Nevan has 15 years of writing experience in career columns. A professional resume writer with vast experience in his portfolios helping candidates create job winning applications.