Unselect or Deselect

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jcanody

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Hi! new user here...

I'm involved in an ongoing disagreement over the correct term to use for an event. When a button has been used to select items for use and then needs to be "turned off", do you "deselect" or "unselect"?

I contend that "deselect" is proper. I base this on my inability to find the word "unselect" in any available dictionary. However, this is the response I received from the software manufacturer's tech support,
"Un - not, opposite of, to reverse or undo the result of a specified action
Select - chosen from a number or group by fitness or preference
Thus, I believe unselect is one of many correct words that could used here."

My thought is that part of his error is in defining "select". He is using a definition for an object (a noun), not the verb. I also contend that his logic is flawed.

I've been struggling with responding in this manner, "Disfortunately, your reasoning is unlogical." I don't want to appear more the fool than necessary.

Can someone please either strengthen my case, or show me the error of my thought process?
 

curmudgeon

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I have seen the term 'unselected' in computer talk, which I suppose means its never been selected therefore it can't be deselected.
 

jcanody

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ahhh.. great point! Thanks Curmudgeon!

In this case, one would not use the "turn off" button, unless one had already used the "select" button. So, perhaps there are three (3) stages of the button: unselected, selected, deselected?
 

curmudgeon

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Yes, it probably makes perfect sense to Bill Gates
 

MikeNewYork

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ahhh.. great point! Thanks Curmudgeon!

In this case, one would not use the "turn off" button, unless one had already used the "select" button. So, perhaps there are three (3) stages of the button: unselected, selected, deselected?

Webster's dictionary has a lsiting for "unselected", but not for "unselect". I found one listing for "unselect" but it means "not excellent".

That is one vote for your side. The definition of "unselected" is "not selected, chosen at random". I'd call that a draw.

All the dictionaries I have consulted define "deselected" as fired, dismissed, rejected. That is one vote for the other side.

I would choose "unselect". Even the largest dictionaries skip listing every possibly "un" word. Most list very few. Others have a separate list of just words without definitions to save space.

That said, it is quite normal to reverse action verbs by simply adding "un". The "de" prefix has precedent also, but is not nearly as common. Based on the preponderance of precedence, I would go with "un" over "de".

I don't agree with the logic that one cannot undo something that has been done. Look at the word "undo", for example. Something can be left "undone" -- never was done, or it can be "undone" -- reversed. The first is an adjective; the second is a participle. So can it be for "unselected".
 

curmudgeon

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Then there is 'preselect' which means to select before you select?
 

Avalon

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I have found a site that defines deselect like this...To cancel the last item you selected. For example, you can deselect text in a word processor by clicking outside the selected area. See also SELECT TEXT.
unselect cannot be found..the site is this..DESELECT
 
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