-ize/-ise words



  1. KeithCollyer says

    The prevalence of -ise in modern British English is probably down to the pernicious influence of the Microsoft Word spelling checker, which insists on this form. I was certainly taught to use -ize in my UK education. Or maybe this is just snobbishness (the fictional Inspector Morse once famously realised (sic) that a suicide note was a fake because the writer had used “minimise”, which Morse declared as illiterate).
    There is a case for preserving the -ize ending in British English – while the example above of analyses vs analyzes is unlikely to cause any problems in practice, insisting on one or the other loses the useful distinction between realise (referring to mental state) and realize (referring to something physical, such as gaining a return on an investment, or turning an idea into reality)

    • I have to disagree. I also have a British education and was taught -ise. The -ise spelling predominates in the media, government documents, signposts etc and became popular through French influence in the 19th century. One example would be Charles Darwin’s 1876 book ‘The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom’. I don’t think many would argue that Darwin was uneducated for using that spelling. Also, the Microsoft Word UK English spellchecker accepts both spellings. It does not correct -ize spellings to -ise.

      • KeithCollyer says

        I had never even realised that -ise was an option until my second job in the early 80s when someone noticed I spelt organization with a “z”. But, to your point about Darwin, I bow to his far greater intellect than mine. You are right about Microsoft Word – at least Word 2013 allows me to use my preferred (at the risk of another war, should that be “prefered”?) spelling, though that was not true of earlier versions. I upgraded all the way from Word 2003 directly to 2013, and the earlier version certainly did not allow it.

    • I too disagree. Throughout my education and life in the UK I have rarely seen the z version used except in American publications. British authors almost always use the s version.

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