Lens or Lense – Which is Correct?

Since many English words can be spelled more than one way, it might be tempting to assume that all words in English have multiple accepted spellings.

Of course, that is not the case. The vast majority of words have only one standard spelling, and many of the words that do have more than one spelling have a version that is widely preferred.

Lens falls in to the former category: it has just one standard spelling. Because the plural of lens is lenses, some writers assume that the singular form can also be spelled lense.

As we will see, though, there is only one correct spelling.

What is the Difference Between Lens and Lense?

In this article, I will compare lens vs. lense. I will outline the correct spelling of this word and give definitions and example sentences.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that you can use to remember if lens or lense is the correct spelling.

When to Use Lens

Definition of lense definition of lens definitionWhat does lens mean? Lens is a noun. A lens is a curved piece of glass for viewing, and often magnifying, objects. The plural form of lens is lenses.

Lenses are an important part of many devices, like cameras, binoculars, microscopes, eyeglasses, and telescopes. Eyes themselves also contain a type of lens, although it is not made of glass.

Here are a few examples of lens in a sentence,

  • If you buy an expensive camera, it might have an automatic lens cleaning function.
  • Archibald’s optometrist gave him an eye exam, and prescribed him corrective lenses.
  • It didn’t take long for me to realize they were looking for a contact lens. –The New York Times

Lens is sometimes used figuratively, as a synonym of perspective or viewpoint. A person who reads Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice through a Marxist lens is using the perspective of Marxism to decide what the book means. This usage is fairly common in academic writing, but less common elsewhere.

When to Use Lense

Define lense and define lensWhat does lense mean? Lense is a missspelling of lens. It rarely appears in edited writing and should be avoided across the board.

As you can see from the following chart of lense vs. lens throughout written English, almost no one uses lense in published books,

lens versus lense

Lense is used with such infrequency that is approached zero.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Lense and lens are two spellings that refer to the same word, only one of which is considered correct.

  • Lens is the correct spelling.
  • Lense is a misspelling that probably arises from the plural spelling of lens:

Since lense is a spelling error, think of the extra E in lense as standing for the word error.

Summary

Is it lense or lens? The noun lens refers to a curved piece of glass that allows things to be viewed more easily.

  • Lens is the correct spelling.
  • Lense is a misspelling that should be avoided.

While the plural form of the word lenses does contain two “E’s,” the singular form contains just one.