There was a time in history when the Americans and the British saw the world very differently. At one point, Americans decided they wanted a distinctly American form of English, with more sensible spelling conventions and a more practical vocabulary.
Whether or not that has actually happened is still a matter of debate. Either way, this linguistic movement generated an abundance of words which are spelled differently in British and American English, but which nevertheless carry identical meanings.
Organisation and organization are two such words. British writers tend to use either spelling, but American writers have standardized around one spelling exclusively.
Continue reading to learn which spelling that is.
What is the Difference Between Organisation and Organization?
In this article, I’ll compare organisation vs. organization. I’ll use each one in a sentence. Then, I’ll give you a helpful trick to remember whether to use organisation or organization in your writing.
When to Use Organization
What does organization mean? Organization is noun that usually means a group of people with a common purpose.
Organization is the only accepted spelling in American English.
There are many types of organizations, as you can see from the examples below.
- The news organization was known for its objective reporting.
- I am being fined by the homeowner’s organization for not mowing my lawn.
- Kelly is part of a political organization that reaches out to citizens who don’t regularly vote.
- Abernathy was part of many student organizations in college, but he never attended any meetings.
- The average member of the public may have little idea that any of this is going on, but the Francophonie organization takes the issue so seriously that no sooner does one Olympics end than it starts negotiating the terms of the next one. –The New York Times
However, in a more general sense, it can mean the quality of being neatly or sensibly arranged.
Here are even more examples,
- Alicia’s desk reflected an internal need for organisation.
- Blake’s CD collection could use some organisation.
You should stick to organization when writing for a primarily American audience.
When to Use Organisation
What does organisation mean? Organisation is an alternative spelling of the same word. It means the same thing and can be used in all the same contexts.
The only difference is that organization is the sole spelling used in American English, while both terms are common in British English.
Here are two examples of British publications using that use one spelling or the other.
- The US nuclear base at Incirlik is a key part of western defences; were Turkey to leave the organisation its loss would be a serious blow. –The Telegraph
- Gianforte said the $50,000 donation to the CPJ, an independent not-for-profit organization that promotes press freedom and that protects the rights of journalists worldwide, was made “in the hope that perhaps some good can come of these events”. –The Guardian
Also, if we look at digital usage data, we can see the disparity in general use.
The above charts compare organization vs. organisation in British and American English, respectively. As you can see, the British do tend to use both spellings with some frequency, although organization has been pulling away from organisation for over 50 years. The story is different in America, however, where organization is clearly the only spelling in wide use.
Trick to Remember the Difference
In America, there is only one choice for the spelling of this word. In Britain, both see common use.
While some British editors and publishers might write off organization as an Americanism, the spelling does seem to be gaining ground in British English.
In other words, you should be safe using organization wherever you find yourself writing. If you write in Great Britain and your workplace has a preference towards organisation, you should obviously follow that.
You can remember that organisation is used with more frequency in the U.K. relative to that of the U.S. since it shares an S with the towns Salisbury, Sandwich, and Sheffield, all of which are located in the U.K. By thinking about all the U.K. cities with names that start with S, you can remember to always use organisation in the U.K.
Is it organisation or organization? Organisation and organization mean the same thing.
They are alternative spellings of the same word, both being used in British English and only one being used in American English.
- Both words can be used in British English.
- Organization is the only correct spelling in American English.
You can remember which is which by keeping in mind all the U.K. cities that start with S. If the above list isn’t memorable enough, it could also include the towns Saxmundham, Sawbridgeworth, Stratford upon Avon, and Skelmersdale, all of which are located in the U.K.
If you’re still having trouble remembering whether to use organization or organisation, you could always default to organization as well. It is common in both communities. Between these two strategies, you should never have to worry about misspelling this word in your writing.