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In my Webster's dictionary, which is unfortuantely not the largest and most complete version available, I can find no specific entries for "dampener" or "dampening", although "damper" and "damping" are both listed. However, one of the meanings given for "dampen" is "to deaden, reduce or lessen", and a similar meaning given for "damp" is "to check or reduce". The verb form of both words can also mean "to moisten".

When I lived in the UK, I don't believe I ever encountered the use of the words "dampener" and "dampening" for "damper" and "damping" in the vibration attenuating sense, so it seems to be an Americanism, but I could be wrong. I have come across it in recent research papers as well as common engineering parlance, although not in textbooks. Any opinions ?

RE: Damper/Dampener

Does your Webster's dictionary have an entry for damper, its base or derivatives, as a noun?  If so, how is the noun defined?

What existing noun best described a piece of equipment whose purpose in life is "to dampen?"  What word best the describes the functioning of that piece of equipment?

RE: Damper/Dampener

Dampener sounds silly to me, and so does dampening.  I've heard people say those before, and I either snicker (coworker) or say nothing (client).

RE: Damper/Dampener

Some appear to avoid this argument by referring to a device intended to damp (or dampen) a vibration as a "snubber".

There is also the misnomer "shock absorber".

Dampers are also used in combustion gas flues and HVAC ducts.  I have never heard "dampener" used in that context.

RE: Damper/Dampener

To answer my own questions, after looking it up, both damper and damping are defined as a nouns, in the contexts decribed above.  Therefore I see no valid reason for using "dampener" or "dampening."

That being said, I see no valid reason for orientated either.

RE: Damper/Dampener

I must have missed it - did someone argue for the use of "orientated?"

RE: Damper/Dampener

Yes on another thread and although orintated gives me goose bumps dampen/dampening sound just great to me but I can also easily live with damp/damping.  Did I hear a snicker?

Jesus is THE life,

RE: Damper/Dampener

Well, I think I can live with oriented, if you can live with oriention as the noun. After all, we use the same construction (hoho) with directed/direction. I suspect orientated is a back construction from orientation, as in rotated/rotation.

Dampening has a definite USAn ring to my ear.

Incidentally shock absorber is a terrible name. When you apply an impact to a typical isolation system a shock absorber TRANSMITS the shock to the isolated body. Damper is a much better descriptor, technically.


Greg Locock

RE: Damper/Dampener

I should have posted my little rant here first (rather than Thread1010-89899), but to me a dampener is something that produces moisture. Thusly, dampening is getting something moist, not reducing oscillations.

Best regards,

Matthew Ian Loew
"Luck is the residue of design."
Branch Rickey

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

RE: Damper/Dampener

Whilst my own inclination is to fully agree with Mloew, I can find no official justification for this position as yet. Does anyone have an OED ? But even if this contention is correct, it would seem to be a "lost cause" in the US. I also surmise that "dampen" is the older form of the word, which was firmly entrenched on both sides of the Atlantic before its meaning became extended to include the modern vibratory connotation. Perhaps this extension occurred first in England, where by this time the dropping of the “en” suffix had already commenced in some usages. But I could be wrong.

RE: Damper/Dampener

From Merriam-Webster: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=dampener

Main Entry: damp·en
Pronunciation: 'dam-p&n
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): damp·ened; damp·en·ing  /'damp-ni[ng], 'dam-p&-/
transitive senses
1 : to check or diminish the activity or vigor of : DEADEN <the heat dampened our spirits>
2 : to make damp <the shower barely dampened the ground>
3 : DAMP 1c
intransitive senses
1 : to become damp
2 : to become deadened or depressed
- damp·en·er  /-n&r/ noun


RE: Damper/Dampener

That's a useful link, IRstuff. My simplified Webster dictionary in book form did not list "dampener", "dampening" or "dampning". So if one interprets "deadened or depressed" to mean the same as "damped" in the engineering sense, that seems to justify either form, contrary to what a lot of people seem to feel, including myself. But is there an engineering and scientific convention favoring "damping", I wonder? My Webster's has an individual and specific entry for "damping", meaning "in physics, a progressive reduction in amplitude of oscillations" (which actually seems not to be quite correct since damping can be exhibited without there necessarily being a "progressive reduction").

RE: Damper/Dampener

This whole damper/dampener thing is precisely why I joined this forum.

Although I've always used the terms "damped" and "dampen" when referring to vibrations, somewhere along the line I began using "damper" and "dampener" interchangeably.

Thanks to MLoew and others for pointing out this incorrect or nonstandard usage.

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