The dh asked me yesterday-- yes, this is the sort of thing he knows I like to talk about-- when to use "imbed" and when to use "embed".
Well, I thought I knew. And in fact, my reasoning is quite good. And if google didn't exist, no one would ever know that I was... well. Not wrong. I think of myself as before my time. In centuries to come, I will be regarded as a prophet.
Here's my answer:
IMbed is transitive: I imbed the tulip bulb in the garden soil. (What? Tulip bulbs are supposed to be planted in the fall? That is crazy!)
That is, IMbed is preceded by a subject that transfers the action of imbedding to the object which gets imbedded.
(Note here: Most im-prefixed words are adjectives like IMmodest, and IM in that case means NOT. Here it means "in," and I think it was part of that big shift from harder Anglo-Saxon syllables to softer ones which are easier to pronounce-- "in" becomes "im" just because it sounds better.)
EMbedded is (or should be) intransitive, probably anticausative, where the subject is really the object of the action and the subject isn't known or extant, or it's irrelevant. That is, the word shifts from IMbed to EMbed when it becomes passive or reflexive. SO
The reporter is embedded with the troops.
Now isn't that logical?
But I checked a bunch of dictionaries-- curiosity is a terrible thing-- and they all seem to say that Embed and Imbed are the same verb, and used identically, and that EMbed is preferred.
Well. I object. I think IMbed should be transitive, and EMbed should be the intransitive or passive form. That makes a reason why there are two variants.
So let's make a note of this. When I become God, which should happen just about anyday now if I get back to doing yoga, that's on my list of things to make so. Oh, yeah, world peace, climate restoration, all that, I'll get to that. But IMBED/EMBED, first on the list.