Audience - audio - audit - audition - auditorium

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The Latin verb audire, meaning 'to hear', ('I hear' is audio) has given rise to several current words in English that should not be confused.

  • Audio itself has been used since 1934 to mean 'sound', as broadcast or recorded. It is contrasted with video (Latin 'I see'), which is used for broadcasting or recording signals that can be seen. (Oddly, although a verb 'to video', exists, meaning 'to make a recording of [usually] a television programme', no equivalent verb 'to audio' has been recorded.)
  • An audience may be
    • a group of people gathered to listen to a concert, etc, or watch a play. {At sports events, the equivalent word is 'gate'.)
    • a hearing granted by an important person to someone (or ones) less important. The Pope may 'grant an audience' to anyone who requests it in the proper way; a monarch may give an audience, in some cultures to all who are waiting to be heard with a petition or request.
      • There is an obsolete word audiency, which was never other than rare, meaning 'a right to be heard'. Don't use it.
  • An audit originally also meant 'a hearing', and was used particularly of a hearing, especially by a judge. This grew to the predominant current meaning, that of an official examination and approval (or not) of financial accounts. As OED points out, "Accounts were originally oral: cf. Matt. xxv. 19-30; Luke xvi. 2-7." The verb 'to audit' is to make such an examination; a person who makes it is an auditor.
In American English, the word auditor is also used for a student who attends lectures etc without being formally enrolled in them for credits; someone who attends a course for interest only. Such a person is said to audit a course.
  • An audition, on the other hand, is another kind of 'hearing' - specifically, a 'test' of an actor, musician etc. An audition usually comes as part of the process of casting a play, or assembling a band.
    • The verb 'to audition' comes later, and is applied in both directions: a conductor may audition for violins (the 'boss' testing the workers); an actor may audition for the part of Hamlet (a 'worker' seeking to impress the 'boss').
  • An auditorium is the part of a building like a theatre or a concert hall where the audience sits (or stands) to enjoy (or not) the performance. For a note on the plural form (auditoria), go to Auditori-.
  • Although this was sometimes rendered by a 'more English' derivative, auditory, this is now obsolete. The term auditory is now restricted to its adjectival use in medical and anatomical senses: 'to do with the sense of hearing'. The auditory nerve, for example, passes the signals from the ear to the brain.
You may also want to see audience and reader(ship), for advice on a point of usage, and nicety of academic vocabulary, or audience - audient, for advice on a point of spelling and phonetics - which, admittedly, is not highly important for this word. (AWE has a Table collecting some of the words that fall into this pattern.)