Apologise or Apologize: What’s the Difference?

English is widely spoken in many parts of the world. Due to various geographic and cultural barriers, two main variations have emerged: American and British English. Each variant has some of its own words, and some words that are spelled slightly differently.

It can be difficult to remember that some words have multiple spellings at all, let alone which words they are and which variant is appropriate to which version of English.

Apologise and apologize are two variants of the same word, but one is more common in American English and the other is relatively more common in British English.

What is the Difference Between Apologise and Apologize?

In this article, I will compare apologise vs. apologize. I’ll use each in a sentence to illustrate their function, and, then, I’ll give you a useful trick to remember which is which.

When to Use Apologise

Definition of apologize meaningWhat does apologise mean? Apologise and apologize are the British and American variants of the verb that means to admit fault or to express remorse.

Apologise is a British variant. Even in the British English speaking community, however, it is still not universally accepted, as apologize is older and had been considered standard for a long time.

Here are some examples of how to use apologise.

  • “Apologise to your sister right now,” said the girl’s mother.
  • If the athlete wants to rejoin the team, he must apologise for his poor attitude.
  • “To apologise is to admit weakness,” the investigator retorted.
  • Boris Johnson, the new foreign secretary, has brushed aside claims that he is a liar and that should apologise for offensive comments he has made in the past about foreign leaders in his first press conference as foreign secretary. –The Guardian

When to Use Apologize

Definition of apologise meaning What does apologize mean? Apologize is the American English variant of the same verb: to apologize. It is the older word and remains more common to this day.

The graph below shows the usage of apologise vs. apologize in books written in English as a whole since 1800.

Apologize definition and apologise definition

The difference is even more pronounced when you look at just American English.

American English:

how to spell apoligize

pologize has always been standard in American English and, as the next graph shows, is also the predominant spelling in British English.

British English:

spelling of apologize

Now, these charts are not an entirely complete picture, since they don’t contain data from newspapers, periodicals, court documents, or other sources. They rely on books alone, so, in actual use, apologise and apologize might be a bit closer in British English.

Even if they are a bit closer, however, it is clear that both spellings are common in British English, while only one spelling is common in American English.

Here in an example of how to use apologize.

  • Although Mr. Horn apologized for the deception and even said he felt deceived by the scandal, he came under withering criticism for not delivering a concrete deadline for fixing most of the cars, and not providing more details about how the scheme was conceived or who was responsible. –The New York Times

Trick to Remember: Apologize vs. Apologise

Apologise versus apologize How to spell apologize? Many people have trouble choosing apologize or apologise in their writing.

If your spell checker doesn’t help you, you can always remember that apologize and Arizona are both words that contain a Z, as well as both being words that are commonly used in America.

If you’re in America, you should always choose apologize. If you are a British writer, either spelling is generally accepted.


Is it apologize of apologise? Many words have alternative spellings in British or American English.

The verb apologize is one such word—outside of North America, the word is commonly spelled both ways: apologize or apologise.

  • Apologize is older, and is still standard in American English.
  • Apologize and apologise are both common in British English.

To remember whether you should use apologise or apologize, keep in mind that the Z in Arizona and apologize marks them each as American words. Both words are used the same way, but in formal writing, you will want to consider your audience when choosing which variant to use. If you still need help remembering, you can refer back to this article for a quick and easy reminder.

To summarize:

  • Either spelling words in British English.
  • Apologize is the correct American spelling.