Many people look at advertisements for floatation therapy and think the term is misspelled when it actually isn’t. Both “flotation” and “floatation” are acceptable spellings for the same term, and both are used to describe the same process. “Floatation” has the older pedigree between the two words; its first confirmed use was in 1806. “Flotation” wasn’t used until the 1850s, and it appears to be a derivative.
Thinking About Liquids
From a grammatical perspective, “floatation” is more appropriate than “flotation” because it’s merely a combination of “float” and the suffix “-ation.” This makes the term literally mean the ability of an object to float. “Flotation” is less clearly related to the English root word, possibly drawing from the French origins of the term float.
While both terms describe similar phenomena, “flotation” encompasses more solid surfaces than “floatation.” Without the extra letter, “flotation” can be used to describe the ability of a surface, such as snow or mud, to hold weight. “Floatation” lacks this additional meaning, lending more specificity to fluid buoyancy.
Testimony From the Industry
The floatation industry prefers the term “floatation” for different reasons. For one, English is an already irregular language. With so many words that don’t follow standard regulations, when there’s an option that allows you to actually follow a common rule, you should take advantage of it. Using “flotation” instead of “floatation” increases confusion in the English language. To keep things simple, objects and matter that float experience “floatation.”
The use is also an aesthetic choice. “Flotation” is similar to “rotation,” and it may sound clinical because of the term’s frequent use in the sciences. “Flotation” has a different aesthetic than “floatation,” no matter how similar the words may appear. With the less fluid connotations of “flotation,” the word can feel stiff and rigid. “Floatation” not only describes the process, but allows you to understand the more fluid connotations.
“Floatation” also appears more similar to fluid than “flotation.” Using the term “flotation” suggests movement, rather than peace, so the terms are different in both appearance and implication.
Form Your Own Opinion
No matter what term is used to describe it, floatation therapy is an exceedingly fluid process. Using the term “floatation” taps into those precise connotations. The precise and aesthetic value of “floatation” corresponds directly to the process of floatation therapy, as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how to relax and float, see for yourself. Take advantage of Northwest Float Center’s floatation therapy programs.