Apologise vs. apologize

Apologize is the preferred spelling in American and Canadian English, and apologise is preferred in varieties of English from outside North America. This is the case despite the fact that apologize is the original form and was once standard even in British English (and is still used by some British publishers).

Traditionally, verbs whose roots have origins in Greek take the -ize suffix, and apology is of Greek origin, so it took –ize when it first came to English in the 16th century. Apologise emerged as a variant fairly early in the word’s history, but it only recently became the preferred spelling outside North America, possibly due to a mistaken belief that apologize is the American spelling and hence to be avoided. A similar trend has guided the recent evolution of the traditional realize into the newer realise in varieties of English from outside North America.


Apologize is preferred in North American publications—for example:


Nearly a third spontaneously apologized for their crimes and showed signs of true repentance. [Toronto Star]

The fine is to be even higher if Chevron doesn’t publicly apologize. [Wall Street Journal]

Executives from a Japanese Sony music unit apologized Wednesday for a rock band under its management that dressed up like Nazis on a national TV broadcast. [Winnipeg Free Press]

British discount carrier easyJet is apologizing to Jewish customers after it stocked only bacon baguettes and ham melts as meal selections on a flight from Tel Aviv earlier this month. [USA Today]

Australian and British publications prefer apologise—for example:

I am not ashamed to say that I was too flabbergasted to apologise. [Telegraph]

It is not the first time Ms Ferguson has had to apologise for her financial dealings. [Herald Sun]

Clare this week apologised to Jessica for any hurt. [Guardian]


Check Your Text


  1. tomo008866 says:

    “Z” spellings and “S” spellings make no difference. It’s pretty random if you ask me. For example, in American English, they don’t spell ‘compromise’ as ‘compromize’ and in British English, they don’t spell ‘amazing’ as ‘amasing’. Both would be correct, in my opinion. They should eventually make a rule for all variants of English for this.

  2. naziUSAHater says:

    This author is clearly a stupid american. Canadians do not use apologize we use apologise. I can’t stand America.

  3. Gail Mackisey says:

    I beg to differ. Some Canadians might prefer apologize, but other prefer apologise. It depends on how Americanized you are. Many scholars disagree with you.

  4. I also disagree. Canadians, though part of North America, don’t spell the same as Americans. We use British English, not American English. So, I apologise, but you’re mistaken ;-)

    • grothwell says:

      This is a huge generalization. In Canada it is common to see both spellings of many words e.g. color, colour, apologize, apologise. There is no hard and fast rule. Over my 36 years of teaching, I would say that the American spelling of words has become much more common, especially since the decline of explicit spelling instruction in many elementary schools.

      • Yes, you’re correct, as a result of the lack of rigorous education in proper grammar, Canadians have, by and large, fallen victim to cultural stagnation in the face of the overwhelming influence of that intellectually stunted behemoth to our south. That being said, and laisez-faire attitudes notwithstanding, proper CANADIAN spelling nevertheless prefers the British variant over the American when one is available.

    • Yes, considering that Canada was once British territory, it makes more sense for people to use British English.

    • Canadians do not use British English, we use Canadian English. We share some words with British English and others with American English. We do not write “tyre” or spell words in the past tense with a T, for example.

  5. Robin Padilla says:

    I am outside the USA and Canada, and I use apologize

  6. Corey Crawford says:

    I just want to let you know that Canadians, are American, Canada is part of the North American Continent so Therefore you are an American.

    • So too are, for example, Ecuadorans, Panamanians, Argentinians, Brazillians and the Inuit (obviously amongst many others). Nevertheless, when someone refers to “Americans”, nobody in the world thinks of anyone but citizens of the “United States of America”… (almost certainly because “United-States-of-Americans” is so very clumsy on the tongue, that we all just leave off the first 3 parts).

    • No, Canadians are North Americans. In the conventions of English, “American” with no qualifier always refers to someone from the United States. In order to refer to someone from another country, a qualifier must be used.

  7. For grammar purists the -ize suffix is correct for words derived ultimately from Greek. But you have to realise that many of these words entered English from French…which uses the -ise suffix.

  8. Teddasaur says:

    From Southeastern Europe here and I prefer “apologise” and british spelling overall.

  9. what ever, as long as the reader understand the meaning of it.

  10. difference between apologize, apologise, apologies. Can u explain me ?
    I hope apologize & apologise are same like color/colour (which means we are asking someone to say sorry to us.)
    Apologies (which means we are asking sorry to someone).

    Is it right ? Is this anything apart from this ?

    • “Apologies” is the plural form of “Apology”, whereas to “apologise” (or “apologize”) is that act of offering someone (or something) an apology. As you inferred, “apologise” and “apologize” are variant spellings of the same word (chiefly British and American respectively).

  11. The “ise” ending is the original British spelling (before AmericaniZation) — In Canada, in cases where American spelling and British spelling differ, the BRITISH spelling is generally preferred (i.e. apologise, socialise, Americanise, colour, favour, honour). The increasing acceptance of American English in Canada is the inevitable result of the cultural proximity of the two countries combined with decreasing rigour in suitably enforcing proper use of grammar.

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