The words regime and regimen are often confused by writers. In recent months, I’ve seen the word regime used incorrectly more and more often. I’m sure that, on occasion, it’s simply a mistake made by autocorrect or by a careless, quick tap on the wrong word. But I’ve also seen regime used incorrectly on web pages, in online marketing, and in other places where it was deliberately chosen for use, and when the correct term should have been regimen. This has become my current peeve.
A regimen is a systematic, planned routine of actions to accomplish something, usually with respect to diet, exercise, or medicine. It is a set of rules about food, exercise, or other health practices to become or stay healthy.
The soldiers maintained a strict daily regimen of cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting.
Her beauty regimen consisted of avoiding unhealthy foods, washing with naturally sourced products, and getting a full night’s sleep.
The woman received weekly vitamin B shots as part of her treatment regimen for fatigue.
In the 1920s, only six nuns still inhabited the convent, contentedly following a regimen of solitude and contemplation.
Synonyms for regimen include procedure, routine, program, system, and schedule.
A regime is a form of government, a particular government, a ruling or prevailing system, or the period during which a particular government or ruling system is/was in power. Is it also the set of enduring rules, cultural and social norms that regulate the operation of a government or institution or are embedded in institutionalized practices.
While it was originally a synonym for any type of government or governance, today the term regime tends to have a negative connotation, as it is usually reserved to describe strict, authoritarian or totalitarian governments or dictatorships.
The old regime fell after the civil war.
It’s been a hard winter in North Korea, and the Kim family regime is once again struggling to feed its people.
Under the new regime, all workers must file a weekly report.
Five thousand Tunisians have attempted to migrate to Italy since the collapse of the Ben Ali regime.
I’ve seen a lot of websites, advertising and even newspaper articles, incorrectly use the term regime to describe new diets, programs combining diet with exercise, and ways to take care of your skin, hair, or body. According to the definitions above, they should be using the term regimen. It irks me to no end.
And then, once again, it gets confusing for a Canadian:
It turns out the joke’s on me. As I researched the definitions of regimen and regime for this blog, I discovered that what I had learned and knew to be true – as described above – was only partially true.
The meanings for regimen and regime can vary, depending on whether you’re using American English or British English. And once again, Canadians are caught somewhere in between, as I had explored in a previous blog post (Spelling: American vs British vs Canadian).
American English tends to limit use of the word regime to governments and use of the word regimen to diet, health and medical contexts.
However, in British English, the term regime has a second meaning, as a regular pattern of action, or an orderly and systemic plan or process, i.e., similar to a regimen. British writers often use the words interchangeably when describing a systematic plan for food, exercise and/or health practices.
I learned something! Which means that, from now on when I read an online item that uses the word regime to describe the latest diet or exercise fad, I need to keep my irritation in check: Is this a British writer? Or is someone being sloppy and using regime incorrectly when they intend and actually mean regimen? Hmmm ….
I welcome your comments, as well as suggestions for future weekly writing tips.