My partner, Chris, and I were debating the other day about whether there was a difference between choosing and deciding. He insisted that we would not have 2 words for the same thing: if the words were different, there was a reason. I pointed out that the words probably came from two different languages (they do - choose has an Old English root and decide has a Latin root). And Chris was triumphant: if they came from different languages, they also came from different experiences! How can you argue that?
More to the point, I lost momentum because the little voice in the back of my head was reminding me (loudly) that Chris always has a reason for making these seemingly eccentric distinctions and I should probably pay attention. So I have checked the usual range of dictionaries and find that they all use "decide" as a definition for "choose." While that supports my side of the argument, it doesn't help me notice my blind spot (Chris always helps me find my blind spot!).
I notice as I consider how the two might be different, that we make both choices and decisions, but we are given them in different ways. When someone gives us a choice, the decision is ours; when someone gives us a decision, the decision is theirs. I also notice that it feels natural to say "I choose" and less natural to say "I decide," although we are likely to soften both by saying "I made a decision or I made a choice." When we are actually making a decision, we announce it as the result of facts more often than of choice. We say, "because of A, therefore B". Not "because of me, therefore B". Or, "given the facts, I had no choice but to decide. . ."
I remember again that the words that have come down to us from Old English are simple and powerful, words that connect us directly with experience. I think of the power of the simple imperative "Choose" and how different it is from "You have to make a decision."
Chris is not always right. I just wouldn't make any money if I chose to bet against him when he presses for more rigorous distinctions.