Lv 5
:) asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 1 decade ago

How to Spell Civilisation?

I was taught that 'civilization' was just the american way of spelling the word and thought you could write it with either an 's' or a 'z' is this correct?


I am British...

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best answer

    The whole debate about "s" or "z" being British or American is a popular misconception. In fact, words which have a Latin root were originally properly spelt with an "s", and words with a Greek root took a "z". Especially since the decline in teaching of Classical languages, this is such an arcane piece of knowledge that people tended to attribute the differences to American and British spelling conventions instead.

    Either spelling is acceptable in virtually all cases. English has no hard-and-fast rules, only conventions and good style. So help yourself.

    Civilisation, incidentally, has a Latin root ("ciuilis" "of the citizen"), but "civilization" is absolutely fine.

  • 3 years ago

    Civilisation Civilization

  • 1 decade ago

    It depends on where you live and also who your reader is. If you live in America, it is spelled "civilization". British people spell it "civilisation."

    Most American teachers would consider "civilisation" to be misspelled. However, I do not see any problem with using American and British spellings interchangeably.

    But, if you are writing for an American teacher, it is best to follow their rules so that you will get a good grade.

    • Martin4 years agoReport

      WRONG. Spelling it with a Z in UK English is correct.

  • 6 years ago

    Haha I'm loving all the people commenting just assuming she's American XD that's hilarious.. If you're English spell it civilisation.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It's incorrect to spell this type of word with a z in British English. The Americans think the opposite. Canada may accept both spellings.

  • 4 years ago

    Why are Yanks are so intent on replacing the s’s in our civilised spellings with z’s. Yanks being short for Yankee, a whole other argument for later.

    Not so fast! Are verbs ending in “-ise” really better bred than those ending in “-ize”?

    The Oxford English Dictionary, (OED) which ought to know, says

    the “-ize” ending is actually the traditional one and the only proper one.

    The OED’s earliest example for realize dates from 1611, it’s taken from a definition in A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, a bilingual dictionary written by Randle Cotgrave, while The first recorded use of the verb with an ‘-ise’ spelling in the OED is not until 1755, over a century later!

    The use of ‘-ize’ spellings is part of the house style at Oxford University Press. It reflects the style adopted in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (which was published in parts from 1884 to 1928)

    the -ize ending corresponds to the Greek verb endings -izo and –izein.

    The situation is slightly complicated by the fact that certain verbs must always be spelled with ‘-ise’ at the end in British English, rather than ‘-ize’: this is generally because they have come into the English language in a different way.

    The difficulty in remembering which words belong to this group is perhaps one of the reasons that –ise spellings were adopted more widely in British English.

    The first of these words to enter English, “baptize,” appeared in the 13th century with its z intact, and was later joined by “authorize” (14th century), “organize” (15th), “characterize” (16th), “civilize” (17th), and many others.

    The “-ise” spellings weren’t used much until the 18th century or later.

    The French verbs like civiliser, dramatiser, organiser, and so on may be the basis for these "ise" spellings.

    The first example for the verb organize in the Oxford English Dictionary is from around 1425, from an English translation of a treatise on surgery

    written by the French physician Guy de Chauliac:

    But, as the OED says, “there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed.”

    Spelling aside, many language authorities have criticized the practice of

    creating new verbs by tacking the suffix “-ize” (or “-ise,” if you prefer) on nouns, adjectives, and proper names.

    In fact, the ‘-ize’ forms have been in use in English spelling since the 15th century, but they didn’t originate in American use, even though they are now standard in US English.

    Critics jumped on Noah Webster, for example, when he included

    “demoralize,” “Americanize,” and “deputize” in his 1828 dictionary.

    Other words condemned in the 19th and 20th centuries were “jeopardize,” “accessorize,” “burglarize,” “prioritize,” “finalize,” and “theorize,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage.

    “If you are one of those persons of tender sensibilities whose nerves are grated by –ize, you would be better off learning to live with the problem,” Merriam-Webster’s says.

    We agree that “-ize” words aren’t going away, but that doesn’t mean we have to use all of them, especially not the ones that irritate our tender

    sensibilities (“colorize,” “finalize,” “prioritize,” etc.).

    Although many “-ize” coinages don’t last (Truman Capote’s “artificialize,” Mary McCarthy’s “sonorized”), the usage guide says, “Who today blinks

    at popularize, formalize, economize, legalize, politicize, terrorize, or even


    It doesn’t matter which spelling convention is chosen: neither is right or wrong, and neither is ‘more right’ than the other. The important thing is that, whichever form you choose, you should use it consistently within a piece of writing.

  • Carey
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Not unless you live in border states. R.I.P..Texas. Edit: Plz, the world is not ending anytime soon. We humas can adapt to almost anything, and Earth has had its climate change in radical ways before, so global warming is nothing new. Plus w/ globalization going on, more than likely we'll all live in peace, without wars, in the future.

  • 1 decade ago

    civilisation is the british variant

    civilization is the american variant

    but mostly we use CIVILIZATION, we use civilisation if we are british which we aren't.

  • Sue J
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago


    civilization this is the one that shows up in the Oxford mini dictionary., but also the one that says correct your spelling to the one above on here!

  • 1 decade ago

    well civilization is spelled with a z and not a s so there is your answer

    • Alice6 years agoReport

      haha except it's not that simple. As everybody else has said it can be spelt either way, one being American and one being English. They just come from different roots. It's like color and colour, mom and mum, realise and realize, civilization and civilisation are both fine.

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