Baptised vs. Baptized: What’s the Difference?

When you are a religious person, and you want to become a fully initiated member of your spiritual community, you might take part in a ceremony wherein a holy person sprinkles water on you or submerses you in a body of water. Afterward, you are said to be symbolically cleansed and ready to serve your deity.

The religions in which this is likely to take place have a word for this ceremony. Different communities spell the word differently, though. Does a person get baptised, or baptized? Read on to find out.

What is the Difference Between Baptised and Baptized?

In this article, I will compare baptised vs. baptized. I will explain when it is proper to use each spelling, and, at the end, I will show you a helpful memory trick to use when you can’t decide whether to use baptized or baptised in your writing.

When to Use Baptised

Definition of baptized definition and definition of baptised definitionWhat does baptised mean? Baptised is the preferred spelling in British English. It is used in language communities outside North America.

It is the past tense form of a verb that means to be initiated into a group or community, usually in a ceremony involving water. It can be literal or figurative.

For example,

  • The pastor baptised the new church members.
  • The dragon queen was baptised by fire.
  • To be baptised into the church, you must first become a believer.
  • As part of an annual tradition marking the day in the liturgical calendar when Jesus was baptised, the Pontiff pronounced each baby’s name pouring water from a golden shell-shaped dish on to their foreheads. –The Telegraph

Baptism has come to refer figuratively to any initiation, or coming into one’s own in a new role, or being accepted into a group or organization. Sometimes the metaphor is explicit, as in the baptism/assassination montage from The Godfather.

When to Use Baptized

Define baptized and define baptisedWhat does baptized mean? Baptized is the standard spelling variant in American English. It can be used in any of the same contexts as baptised.

  • Poland, where people baptized Catholic make up 95% of the population, remains a relative bastion of orthodox practice. –The Wall Street Journal

As you can see from the chart below, baptized has been dominant in American English since at least 1800.

baptised versus baptized

This chart is not scientific or precise, since it only looks at books published in English by American authors since 1800. Still, it is useful for identifying a long term trend.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here is a helpful trick for remember baptized vs. baptised in your writing.

When choosing one of these spellings, you should consider your intended audience. If you are writing for a predominantly American audience, choose baptized. If your intended audience will be made up of predominantly British English speakers, use baptised instead.

You can remember to reserve baptised for British audiences by noticing the shared S between baptised and British. This shared letter should make it easy to remember that baptised is the British spelling of the word.

Summary

Is it baptised or baptized? Baptised and baptized are two different spellings of the same word.

  • Baptised is the preferred spelling in British English.
  • Baptized is the preferred spelling in American English.

You can keep these words straight by remembering that baptised shares an S with the word writers who use this spelling: the British. If you use this memory trick, it should be easy to remember when to use which spelling of this word.

If you still need help, you can refer back to this article for a quick refresher.