Site Seeing or Sightseeing – Which is Correct?

When you go on a vacation and you visit tourist attractions, are you site seeing or sightseeing?

The confusion between these two words is an extension of the confusion between site and sight. If you know the difference between site and sight, you will know whether site seeing or sightseeing is correct?

If not, no worries! Let’s go over these two words.

What is the Difference Between Site Seeing and Sightseeing?

In this article, I will compare site seeing vs. sightseeing. I will outline the correct term and use it in several example sentence so that you can see it in context.

Plus, at the end, I will show you a mnemonic device that can help you choose either sightseeing or site seeing as the best choice for your own writing.

When to Use Sightseeing

site seeing versus sightseeingWhat does sightseeing mean? Sightseeing is a noun that refers to the activity of visiting tourist attractions.

For example,

  • Cassidy visited Jamaica, but since she had been there before, she did not do much sightseeing and spent time with her friends in Kingston instead.
  • Portland is full of tourists who are hellbent on sightseeing, which clogs up the freeways at rush hour and makes city natives cranky.
  • The police said a red Gray Line sightseeing bus sideswiped a blue CitySights NY bus and another vehicle on Seventh Avenue, a one-way southbound route, then jumped a curb onto the sidewalk at Duffy Square. –The New York Times

Sightseeing is a compound word, which means it is made up of multiple smaller words added together. The first part of this compound word, sight, refers to places of interest to tourists and visitors in a city. Seeing means visiting or literally looking at in this context.

As a compound word, sightseeing should always be spelled as a single word when referring to the activity of visiting tourist attractions. The two-word alternative sight seeing is considered a typo in this context.

When to Use Site Seeing

definition of sightseeing definition of site seeingWhat does site seeing mean? Site seeing is a common misspelling of the word sightseeing. Since it is a homophone of sightseeing, the confusion is somewhat understandable.

While a sight is a place of interest to a tourist, a site is a place where something is being built, e.g. a construction site. Most people don’t tour various construction sites on vacation.

The chart below shows the relative usage of sightseeing vs. sight seeing vs. site seeing in English books written since 1800,

define sightseeing define site seeing

The data is not exhaustive in its scope, since it only deals with books, but you can still clearly see that sightseeing is preferred by the vast majority of writers.

Trick to Remember the Difference

If you are writing about visiting tourist attractions or other worthy locations, you should always choose the compound word sightseeing over separate words like sight seeing or site seeing.

Sightseeing is the standard term and has been for some time.

To help you remember that sightseeing is correct, remember that it is a single word, like tourist. Tourists go sightseeing, and since they are both one word, it should be easy to remember that sightseeing is the standard version.

You can also remember that tourists don’t—generally speaking—seek out construction sites to tour on vacation.

Summary

It is sightseeing or site seeing? Sightseeing is a noun that refers to the activity of visiting tourist attractions.

  • Sightseeing is the correct spelling.
  • Sight seeing and site seeing are both misspellings.

To conclude, use sightseeing, not any other version of this term.