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January 2008



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Organisation or organization? The great spelling debate

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Organisation or organization? The great spelling debate

What is the correct spelling?

There is a belief that it is spelt with an 's' in the UK and in the US with a 'z'.

In fact while the US spelling is with a 'z' the UK preferred spelling is also with a 'z' and as an alternative with an 's'.

This is true even in my 1972 Concise Oxford Dictionary.

So which is correct - well both, with z being the preferred according to the dictionaries in both the US & UK. This ignores the debate that is also occurring in Canada and Australia!



Some definitions (when you search for "organisation"):

Jacket image of the Compact Oxford English Dictionary


(also organisation)

  • noun 1 the action of organizing. 2 a systematic arrangement or approach. 3 an organized body of people with a particular purpose, e.g. a business.

  — DERIVATIVES organizational adjective organizationally adverb.



    1. The act or process of organizing.

    2. The state or manner of being organized: a high degree of organization.

  1. Something that has been organized or made into an ordered whole.

  2. Something made up of elements with varied functions that contribute to the whole and to collective functions; an organism.

  3. A group of persons organized for a particular purpose; an association: a benevolent organization.

    1. A structure through which individuals cooperate systematically to conduct business.

    2. The administrative personnel of such a structure.

organizational or'gan·i·za'tion·al adj.
organizationally or'gan·i·za'tion·al·ly adv.

Source -" The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Mar. 2007.

organisationwebster dictionary

One entry found for organisation.

Main Entry: or·ga·ni·sa·tion, or·ga·nise, or·ga·nis·er

source -


There have been many debates about international spelling around the world these include this found on a debate about computer dictionaries:

My text is marked as English (UK) but it doesn’t flag spellings like organization.

It may come as a surprise to many, but most authoritative UK English dictionaries prefer the -z- spelling for many words, and have done so for decades. English (US) only allows -z- spellings, but other countries allow -s- & -z- interchangeably except: where a particular spelling is defined for a specific entity: e.g. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

The Macquarie Dictionary also lists -z- spellings as permissible alternates. Some institutions or texts may have stylistic preferences for one over the other.

In theory you could add all the spellings you don’t like to an exclude dictionary, but there are many thousands of such words in many forms E.G.:

Organize, organized, organizing, organizer, organizers, organization, organizations, organizational, organization’s.

Some words only have -s- forms e.g. promise, premise, chemise, compromise, merchandise, franchise, enterprise, disguise, exercise, surmise, surprise.

See these links for more background on the ise/ize (and yse/yze) issue:


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Keywords: Organisation, organization, organisational, organizational, Organisation, organization, organisational, organizational

,Organisation development, organization development, organisational development, organizational development



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