• Mark Allen

In this case, use the word with fewer digits

I was asked recently whether “digitization” or “digitalization” is correct. It strikes me that “digitalization” is growing, but that’s just anectdotal. “Digitization” remains more common in a Google search, and it is more logical than “digitalization.” Digitize to convert to digits (as in binary). Digital is an adjective.

The words have long histories dating to before the digital age. “Digitize” once meant to point or to manipulate with the fingers. The first use to mean converting analog signal to digital dates to 1953 in the Oxford English Dictionary corpus. Digitizing data first appears in 1973 (at least in OED’s files).

According to Bryan A. Garner in “Garner’s Modern American Usage,” “digitalization” also has a specialized medical use: the administration of digitalis, a heart medicine prepared from the digitalis (or foxglov