Shipping Statuses: What’s the Difference Between “Shipped” and “Delivered”?

One last note to wrap things up, since, according to the keyword data, people aren’t exactly clear on this.

“Shipped” does not mean the same as “Delivered.”

Ignoring, for now, the alternative usages of the words (regarding fictional romances and spiritual status updates, respectively), we do have to admit that the two words have similar denotations. But their connotations in the industry are different.

“Shipped,” in this context, means the same as “departed.” The object is in transit. It is at the origin no more. It has ceased to be stationary. It has gone to meet its consumer.

But—and this is key—it’s not there yet.

“Delivered,” on the other hand, means “go check your front door, quick, before you have to start Mark Rober-ing your pesky neighbors.”

Those of us who are word nerds can definitely understand the confusion. The trouble here lies in the ambiguity of the definition of “shipped.” Unlike most verbs in English (which use the -ed suffix for past tense, and -ing for present tense), the conjugations of “to ship” have slid into different temporal positions.

Allow us to demonstrate. If you’re planning on sending someone a package, you could say, “I will ship it to them,” but you could also say, “I’m shipping it to them.” Similarly, once you’ve handed the parcel to the post office, or the UPS driver, or whomever, you could say “I’ve shipped the item,” even if it has yet to even leave the ZIP code.

What this leads to is a misconception where the status “shipped” implies completion of the task, when in fact it has, as the song says, “only just begun.”

We know, we know. If every language in the world was at a party, English would be the most heavily inebriated of the bunch.

Go home, English; you’re drunk.

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