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Assure, Ensure & Insure

assure

One of our readers recently inquired about the differences between assure, ensure, and insure. As with many words that share ancestors, these terms’ meanings overlap thematically, but they are not necessarily interchangeable. Here’s a look at the key differences.

Assure, ensure, and insure ultimately derive from the Latin word sēcūrus meaning “safe.” Assure was the first of the three to enter English with a reflexive sense of “to have confidence, trust, rely.” Today, the term is most commonly used to mean “to state with confidence to” or “to cause to know surely,” conveying the action of putting someone’s mind at ease, as in She assured us that everything would turn out all right.

Ensure entered English shortly after assure with the meaning “to declare earnestly to; state with confidence to.” Today it is widely used to convey the action of securing or guaranteeing an outcome or development, as in This letter will ensure you a hearing.

Insure entered English as a variant of ensure. However, in the mid-1600s, insure picked up a financial sense of “to pay a sum to secure indemnity to or on, in case of loss, damage, or death.” This financial sense is what distinguishes it today. Nowadays, we primarily use insure to talk about providing or obtaining insurance, as in After all his car accidents, the company refuses to insure him again. Insure can be used to talk about other kinds of risk, as in We insured against disappointment by making an early reservation, but note that in this usage the term is typically followed by the word against.

As you can see, all of these terms address the action of making certain or guaranteeing, but each in a slightly different way. The most important distinction to remember when trying to decide which to use is that insure is the only of the three that explicitly refers to insurance policies and financial risk.

132 Comments

  1. MURICA -  December 30, 2015 - 9:14 am

    I ASSURE you that Trump will prevail! Trump 2016!

    Reply
    • Matt -  April 20, 2016 - 7:36 am

      I dont think you could get any one to insure you that claim.

      Reply
  2. mehmani.ali -  February 14, 2015 - 2:39 am

    Thanks a lot for description.

    Reply
    • dada -  September 24, 2015 - 7:21 am

      I DONT LOVE YOU

      Reply
      • JimJamaFlimFlam -  October 8, 2015 - 6:01 pm

        I DON’T LOVE YOU EITHER

        Reply
    • chris -  October 8, 2015 - 6:02 am

      thanks for this info… how about…. CERTIFICATE OF HONOR and CERTIFICATE OF HONORS… which one is to be used for making a certificate? hope for clarification on this.. thanks

      Reply
  3. Diz-E-Dog -  January 26, 2015 - 8:42 am

    yoyo

    Reply
  4. Ingrid -  January 26, 2015 - 6:44 am

    I assure you with all my abilities,I will make a timely payment to insure against a late penalty fee so as to ensure a good credit relationship with your company.

    Reply
    • darwinsdodo -  January 26, 2015 - 11:54 am

      Am I ensured with your assurance of unique insuring? I assure you I am insecure about the insurance of the nature of your ensuring claims.

      Reply
    • Julio Mcfadden -  February 3, 2015 - 4:16 pm

      I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but assure and ensure and insure are the same thing.

      Reply
    • Karen -  October 8, 2015 - 9:57 am

      That was fabulously done.

      Reply
      • subha -  March 13, 2016 - 1:19 pm

        i still didn’t understand tho.. it was not clear… this is not fabulously done tbh

        Reply
  5. Bitshull Most -  January 25, 2015 - 11:19 pm

    to ensure that poo can come out smoothly from your asshole, take this pill…

    Reply
    • gg -  January 31, 2015 - 7:54 am

      Reply
  6. cindy luhu -  January 25, 2015 - 3:39 pm

    Why Santy Clause? Why?

    Reply
    • cindy luhu -  January 25, 2015 - 3:40 pm

      But Why? Santy, Why MY Tree

      Reply
  7. anonymous -  January 25, 2015 - 8:21 am

    It still doesn’t make sense.

    Reply
  8. anonymous -  January 25, 2015 - 8:20 am

    shesh

    Reply
  9. penis face -  January 25, 2015 - 7:05 am

    Potty

    Reply
  10. ANONYMOUS -  January 25, 2015 - 5:40 am

    That was interesting

    Reply
  11. Rainbow dash -  January 24, 2015 - 5:51 pm

    dis is dicktionary dot com this web site is supposed to be educational

    Reply
  12. Spaz -  January 24, 2015 - 12:52 pm

    I agree with Bill’s answer!:)

    Reply
  13. Nango Evaristus -  January 23, 2015 - 11:23 am

    I assure u I’ll personally ensure the car is insured

    Reply
  14. bill -  January 23, 2015 - 9:06 am

    you assure people, things ensure outcomes, and you insure things of value.

    Reply
    • judydcash -  January 23, 2015 - 9:07 pm

      Good way to remember it Bill, thanks!

      Reply
    • Rainbow dash -  January 24, 2015 - 1:38 pm

      HALF LIFE 3 CUMFIRMED

      Reply
    • Michael -  January 25, 2015 - 11:00 pm

      Please don’t hurt my brain. I really don’t need it.

      Reply
    • aj -  January 26, 2015 - 4:51 am

      perfect!

      Reply
    • In Gratitude International -  January 26, 2015 - 7:49 am

      Great synopsis!!! Very Helpful :)

      Reply
    • Diz-E-Dog -  January 26, 2015 - 8:41 am

      CONFUSING!!!

      Reply
  15. Petty Thing -  January 22, 2015 - 5:19 pm

    confusin

    Reply
    • cheriehair -  January 24, 2015 - 12:59 pm

      Confusing? How so?

      Reply
    • hannah -  January 24, 2015 - 1:33 pm

      It’s latin you know.

      Reply
  16. mynameisjeff -  January 22, 2015 - 1:03 pm

    illuminati

    Reply
      • RafRaf -  January 25, 2015 - 12:26 pm

        Its the illuminati… Wat do u think?

        Reply
      • Diz-E-Dog -  January 26, 2015 - 8:40 am

        I m Beast

        Reply
        • Qwes -  January 26, 2015 - 11:01 am

          Qwes is the best

          Reply
    • Qwes -  January 26, 2015 - 10:58 am

      Niqqa weird

      Reply
    • Qwes -  January 26, 2015 - 11:00 am

      Qwes is awesome

      Qwes

      Reply
  17. jaden -  January 22, 2015 - 7:30 am

    I still dnt get this

    Reply
    • Ta'Shonda -  January 22, 2015 - 12:18 pm

      me either…

      Reply
    • jamira -  January 23, 2015 - 8:18 am

      What don’t u understand I mean is what dnt u get.;-)

      Reply
    • Kdgit -  January 24, 2015 - 6:10 pm

      I still don’t get it either

      Reply
    • Chris -  January 25, 2015 - 9:30 pm

      I assure you that re-reading this article several times will ensure you understand the differences between the words, and will insure you against misusing them in future.

      Reply
  18. jobe -  January 22, 2015 - 6:31 am

    we can assure you it is harmfull, out of our hands and indiscriminate.

    Reply
    • Qwes -  January 26, 2015 - 11:01 am

      Qwessssssss

      Reply
      • Nathan -  October 6, 2015 - 12:18 pm

        Ghchgcghfhdhf is the best thing to do with the same time I try and make me feel better about yourself and the rest of the year of the day before the end of of the

        Reply
  19. maria -  January 21, 2015 - 4:31 pm

    yes

    Reply
  20. huita -  January 21, 2015 - 11:34 am

    dhsjakgfdjaskfhdjaskl

    Reply
    • Gilligaf -  January 22, 2015 - 11:59 am

      Gilligaf

      Reply
      • ratttatat -  January 22, 2015 - 1:33 pm

        qwdfvbtiklkj,mhkh?juihkjh!

        Reply
        • Ummm -  January 22, 2015 - 6:35 pm

          Umm what the heck? This is to leave comments not type random letters.. :I

          Reply
          • asdfghjklllllll; -  January 25, 2015 - 5:23 pm

            rtfgdyasueuorv mnsaujdijerwahyikafsdgj;

        • Anonymous -  January 22, 2015 - 6:43 pm

          qwertyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm

          Reply
        • lol -  January 23, 2015 - 6:40 am

          lmzefkjlelzkjeozfjzeoifjeoifjzoefjopjifzpoefjzeoi ?

          Reply
          • mkrvejigmnviog -  January 24, 2015 - 12:55 am

            yeah, you’re right!

  21. Matt -  January 21, 2015 - 8:44 am

    You guys are so incredibly lame.

    Reply
    • jamira -  January 23, 2015 - 8:19 am

      I’m not I’m awsome right I’m board are u guys. :-[

      Reply
      • hersinoor@hotmail.com -  January 23, 2015 - 11:19 pm

        I’m in love with you jamira.

        Reply
  22. Doris. Mitchll -  January 21, 2015 - 7:23 am

    Insure is a document on a vehicle and the other 2 are pretty much the same, right?

    Reply
  23. CHUCK1967 -  January 21, 2015 - 1:14 am

    I assure you that you will be insured. You can be fully ensured of it.. lol! 8D

    Reply
    • Compare & Prove -  January 24, 2015 - 9:04 am

      well done, bill! you clarified the correct usage of each of these words most succinctly! am i correct in assuming that the word, “things” (“things ensure outcomes”), also includes actions/behaviors, as well as physical articles (such as the letter in the example above)?

      Reply
    • hannah -  January 24, 2015 - 1:24 pm

      Ha ha ha!

      Reply
  24. Lory -  January 20, 2015 - 9:32 am

    Just a little sentence: “I assure you that our company can ensure that we will insure all of your belongings.”

    Reply
    • me -  January 21, 2015 - 6:59 am

      that is stuped

      Reply
      • me -  January 21, 2015 - 7:00 am

        I’m awesome

        Reply
        • dog -  January 22, 2015 - 2:04 pm

          I like science me

          Reply
          • wertyu -  January 25, 2015 - 4:56 pm

            I like candy.

          • Diz-E-Dog -  January 26, 2015 - 8:42 am

            yo

    • Sabrina -  January 23, 2015 - 10:16 pm

      Excellent!!

      Reply
    • moneytavious -  January 24, 2015 - 1:36 pm

      im with u on that one Lory big time!

      Reply
  25. Heidi Hoelting -  January 20, 2015 - 9:18 am

    The agent advised me to insure the purchase and assured me that this particular policy would ensure thorough compensation in case of theft.

    Reply
    • Bladen -  January 20, 2015 - 12:20 pm

      The agent advised me to ensure the purchase and assured that this particular policy would insure through compensation in case of theft.

      Reply
      • Julie -  January 23, 2015 - 8:17 am

        Thank you! : )

        Reply
        • Compare & Prove -  January 24, 2015 - 10:15 am

          Don’t follow Bladen…he’s lost. (: Not only did he completely scramble Heidi’s excellent example statement in its structure (and, thus, its meaning), leaving it an incorrect and muddled mess; he also either misspelled or changed “thorough” to “through” (not at all the same thing). In short, Bladen’s supposed correction is an incorrect mess. Sorry, Bladen. I’m assuming your intentions were good.

          Reply
          • booknerd -  January 29, 2015 - 6:59 am

            You’re so right about that! Bladen should re-read the article.

      • Nancy -  January 23, 2015 - 7:42 pm

        Wrong. One cannot ensure the purchase in the sense of buying an insurance policy. That would require using the word insure. The first comment above, by Bill, is correct.

        It’s similar to there, their, and they’re. Each has a completely different meaning.

        If you want to be taken seriously, use the correct words.

        Reply
  26. Abraham Taye -  January 20, 2015 - 6:10 am

    In my understanding Assure is a kind of oral or verbal grantee, ensure means confirmation in written or other kind of tangible object and insure is for financial terms.

    Reply
  27. Usha Fotedar -  January 20, 2015 - 12:50 am

    I can assure you that the new company will ensure you get insured against any default on payment.

    Reply
  28. Rohan Shukla -  January 19, 2015 - 7:52 pm

    Is anybody listening to me i want to know about it quickly.

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Lets go.

    Reply
    • jamira -  January 23, 2015 - 8:20 am

      Know about what. What is she talking about.

      Reply
  29. Rohan Shukla -  January 19, 2015 - 7:49 pm

    I wanted to know why us people re talking about this and not something else.Can someone answer.

    Reply
    • booknerd -  January 29, 2015 - 7:02 am

      Because we’re commenting on the article. If you want to talk about something else, go to a different forum.

      Reply
  30. Bobbie Waldo -  January 19, 2015 - 2:48 pm

    Here is an easy way to know the difference between “ensure” and “assure.” You are planning a romantic evening. Your friend tells you about a great restaurant. He also says, “If you go during the week, I assure you, you don’t need a reservation, I go there all the time… I know these things.” What do you do? Do you rely on your friend’s ASSURANCE, or do you make a reservation which will ENSURE you a seat, even if there is a huge wedding party there that night? Bottom line: What happens when each of these things go wrong? What do you get? ASSURE = Sorry. ENSURE = A future free or hugely discounted dinner. INSURE = Enough $$$ to make you wish something would go wrong.

    Reply
    • Bobbie Waldo -  January 21, 2015 - 2:03 pm

      I just realized that my name is super dumb

      Reply
      • Gilligaf -  January 22, 2015 - 12:01 pm

        HAHA look at mine lol ;]

        Reply
    • Alex(btw, I'm a girl.) -  January 22, 2015 - 6:37 pm

      That’s cool.Thanks for the tip.I need to make a reservation at that restaurant sometime;)

      Reply
  31. Grace Matteson -  January 19, 2015 - 7:27 am

    Amazing! I never new that!

    Reply
  32. John -  January 18, 2015 - 3:25 pm

    Ken -then please ensure that you learn something every day and that will insure you against being short of vocabulary in the future!

    Reply
  33. Neil Saaty -  January 18, 2015 - 11:12 am

    I assure you that you must insure for traffic accidents to ensure you will not be bankrupted by a serious one.

    Reply
    • maddaline -  January 21, 2015 - 1:21 pm

      I do believe that is true but are u the internet and god made it for a reason and not to take up your computer space.

      Reply
      • A Person -  January 25, 2015 - 7:15 am

        That was completely unnecessary and random lol.

        Reply
    • C.R.P -  October 4, 2015 - 6:32 pm

      Bankrupted is NOT a word.

      Reply
  34. Toluwalase Eniola -  January 18, 2015 - 3:48 am

    Whao! Dis Educative;but In Most Cases “Assure Nd Ensure” Ar Used Interchangeably

    Reply
    • Debby Sisco -  January 20, 2015 - 3:44 pm

      (Incorrectly) used interchangeably, yes.

      Reply
  35. mathjo -  January 17, 2015 - 4:05 pm

    nice

    Reply
  36. mumama -  January 17, 2015 - 11:46 am

    I think to make more clear you need to give an example contains all these words in the same statement.

    Reply
  37. tutor A -  January 17, 2015 - 11:28 am

    thanks for lesson

    Reply
  38. AMANI -  January 17, 2015 - 11:26 am

    Very brilliant ExPlAiNaTiOn..!!!

    Reply
  39. Quiverlotus Hissef -  January 17, 2015 - 6:00 am

    Thank you for trying to add value to your dictionary.com site.
    If I keep getting these pop-ups on dictionary.com, I’m going to start using a different site for my word definitions.
    Please stop putting the pop-ups over the definitions.

    Reply
    • mgbemenaagatha -  February 10, 2015 - 6:56 am

      I want to know more about word fact and to be receiving it.

      Reply
  40. Farhad -  January 16, 2015 - 11:01 am

    What I learned from this topic is basically “assure” and “ensure” are kind of very similar and in most cases can be replaced by each other, but the word “insure” refers to insurance and financial policies!

    Reply
    • Jimbocous -  January 17, 2015 - 9:13 pm

      I like to remember it this way:
      Assure is talk,
      Ensure is action to prevent,
      Insure is protection against inaction.

      Reply
      • Julie -  January 21, 2015 - 7:54 am

        I like that! It is very succinct.

        Reply
    • Rohan Shukla -  January 19, 2015 - 7:53 pm

      Could you people shut up it is getting boring.

      Reply
      • Beatrice Rose Winkler -  January 22, 2015 - 7:21 am

        DON’T say shut up!

        Reply
        • asir shamsuddin -  January 22, 2015 - 1:57 pm

          dont say shut up say be quiet

          Reply
      • Nancy -  January 23, 2015 - 7:46 pm

        Then leave this site if you’re bored.

        Reply
      • booknerd -  January 29, 2015 - 7:07 am

        If you’re bored, go somewhere else.

        Reply
  41. Maria -  January 15, 2015 - 7:07 pm

    Very interesting history of these words. I would like to see examples of how they are used in everyday expressions. Thank you. +

    Reply
    • Brian W. -  January 17, 2015 - 11:04 pm

      To ensure that we have all learned something from this article, I assure you that I will need to insure this sentence from theft.

      Reply
    • JH -  January 20, 2015 - 5:56 am

      How about
      “I assure you that I will ensure the premium is paid to insure this vehicle.

      “Assure” in the sense of “I guarantee to you ” that this action will be done.
      “Ensure” in the sense of making “I will make certain” it happens
      “Insure” in the financial sense as explained elsewhere
      Trust this helps.

      Reply
    • maria -  January 21, 2015 - 4:31 pm

      yes

      Reply
  42. Ken -  January 15, 2015 - 4:42 pm

    I assure you I have learned something today.

    Reply
    • Nathan -  January 19, 2015 - 1:52 am

      To ensure that you don’t forget, you should use them frequently, in their correct way.

      Reply
  43. Kathrina Marshall -  January 15, 2015 - 12:55 pm

    Excellent !!

    Finally, we can say that assure, ensure, and insure all have the same meaning “to make sure,” and even though some argue that they are interchangeable many maintain that their usage is dependent on context

    Reply
    • Robert Ribeiro -  January 18, 2015 - 12:55 pm

      Yes, I agree with your take on these words. And I’ve corrected others on their use. It’s all about the context.

      Reply
    • Chirazz -  January 19, 2015 - 12:56 am

      I assure you that I am ensured that my car is insured:-)

      Reply
      • Debby Sisco -  January 20, 2015 - 3:57 pm

        Very close, but it would have been better if you had said, “I assure you that I have ensured that my car is insured.” Think of it this way: One assures (someone) of something or that something will happen. One ensures that something will happen or be whatever.

        Reply
        • Petty Thing -  January 22, 2015 - 5:18 pm

          confusin

          Reply
    • Rohan Shukla -  January 19, 2015 - 7:54 pm

      I think different BFF’s of talking.

      Reply
  44. assure, ensure, assure | Ellen Akins -  January 15, 2015 - 8:48 am

    […] Dictonary.com has a clarifying note on when to use which:  assure, ensure, or insure (hint: “insure” is the only one having anything to do with insurance). […]

    Reply
  45. Adepoju Gabriel Isola -  January 15, 2015 - 7:17 am

    Very interesting

    Reply
  46. Berita Otieno -  January 13, 2015 - 3:02 pm

    Very informative

    Reply
    • swag -  January 20, 2015 - 5:13 am

      swag

      Reply
  47. Kazuyo -  January 13, 2015 - 9:47 am

    interesting!

    Reply
  48. Charlotte Cameron -  January 12, 2015 - 8:34 am

    Word facts are fun!

    Reply
    • Tina Nguyen -  January 17, 2015 - 12:46 pm

      It is very interesting English, even Americans, Aliens…we are still making a mistakes in conversation or written. If we did not pay attention about this. Wishing have more words fact to remind me about English.

      Reply

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