Moslem vs. Muslim: What’s the Difference?

In today’s distressed political climate, it is important to speak to and about members of other cultures with respect, just as it is important to be able to describe your own culture and people appropriately.

Should you refer to followers of the Islamic faith as a Muslim or Moslem? Both words appear in print. Furthermore, both have been standard at various points throughout history, but one is greatly preferred in both American and British English today.

Continue reading to find out which spelling is correct.

What is the Difference Between Moslem and Muslim?

In this article, I will compare the terms Moslem vs. Muslim. I will use each in a sentence. Then, I will give you a useful trick to help determine whether you should choose Moslem or Muslim in your own writing.

When to Use Muslim

moslem versus muslimWhat does Muslim mean? Muslim is a noun. It means one who follows the religion of Islam.

It is important to note that Muslim and Islam are not interchangeable. Islam refers to a set of religious beliefs, whereas a Muslim is a person who follows those beliefs. In this way, these terms are analogous to the words Jew and Judaism.

Muslim can also be an adjective meaning of or related to followers of Islam. See the sentences below for examples.

  • Some Muslim women wear hijabs in public.
  • The star athlete on the varsity soccer team is a Muslim.
  • THE UK is seeing a big rise in female Muslim entrepreneurs opening new businesses while juggling hectic family lives, according to the organisers of a major trade event aimed at the Muslim community. –The National

When to Use Moslem

Definition of muslim definition of moslem definitionWhat does Moslem mean? Moslem is an alternative spelling of Muslim. The words have the same meanings in all contexts, and both spellings have been in use for several centuries.

Moslem was the preferred spelling until the first half of the 20th century. Today, Muslim is the preferred spelling.

Bryan Garner offers as a possible explanation for the shift in preference the prominence of the Black Muslims, an alternative name for the Nation of Islam during the civil-rights movement. Now, he cites, Muslim is 20 times as common as Moslem.

You can see the relative usage of the words Muslim and Moslem in the graph below.

Define muslim and define moslem

This graph is not scientific, since it only looks at books written in English since 1800. It doesn’t even tell us whether the words are being used as nouns or adjectives. Still, it clearly illustrates a long-term usage trend.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here is a helpful trick to remember Muslim vs. Moslem.

Moslem was preferred up until the 20th century, but today, it is outdated.

Since Moslem and outdated are both spelled with an O, you should have no trouble choosing Muslim, which is the more up-to-date spelling of this term.


Is it Moslem or Muslim? Moslem and Muslim are alternative spellings of the same word. It is sometimes a noun and sometimes an adjective, but it always refers to or describes followers of Islam.

So, which spelling is preferred, Muslim or Moslem?

It is not difficult to remember which is the preferred spelling in modern times. The words Moslem and outdated both contain the letter O. If you link Moslem and outdated in your mind, you will easily remember to choose Muslim instead for contemporary audiences.

If that mnemonic fails you, feel free to check this article at a later date to refresh your memory.