Acknowledgement Vs Acknowledgment

Both acknowledgment and acknowledgement appear throughout the English-speaking world, but acknowledgment, without the middle e, is preferred in U.S. and Canadian English, while acknowledgement is preferred outside North America. These preferences extend to the plural forms, acknowledgements and acknowledgments.

In the U.S. and Canada, acknowledgement appears about once for every two instances of acknowledgment.

The ratio is the other way around in British and Australian publications, at least the ones that make their content searchable online.

So, wherever you are writing, both forms are common enough to be considered acceptable, but it may be safer to stick with the one that your readers are more likely to consider correct.

Acknowledgment Definition

Acknowledgment means to admit you understand or accept the conditions of something. The implicit acknowledgment of information or actions. 

History of the Word Acknowledgement

Acknowledgment is now considered the American spelling, but it was preferred in all varieties of English until recently. It’s not necessarily older, as instances of both spellings are easily found in texts going back to the 16th century when the word entered the language.

But as shown in this ngram, which graphs the use of both forms in British books, magazines, and journals published from 1800 to 2019, British writers once favored acknowledgment by a wide margin, and that form gave way to the longer spelling toward the end of the 20th century:

Acknowledgement Vs Acknowledgement British English

When to Use Acknowledgment

It’s often easily confused because the spelling differences are just one letter. But there’s actually a ton of confusables like this, so don’t worry if you don’t understand the difference.

Use the word acknowledgment to show the act of acknowledging or confessing. People usually use the term for owning up to a mistake or revealing a secret–for example:

  • Does the president deserve our forgiveness after the acknowledgment of her mistakes on air?

You may also use the word to recognize someone’s or something’s existence, point, truth, or quality–for example:

  • The company’s acknowledgment of LGBTQIA+ rights signals a rebranding. 
  • My parents nodded as an acknowledgment of my comment.

Another definition for acknowledgment is an award or token of appreciation–for example:

  • The students gave her a painting as an acknowledgment of her participation in the research.
  • He doesn’t post his volunteering activities because he does not want a lot of acknowledgment.
  • She has a long list of acknowledgments.

The last and most common use of the word is a confirmation that something has been received–for example:

  • This email is an acknowledgment of your payment.
  • This letter of acknowledgment falls upon you.

Does Acknowledgment Have a Plural Form?

Acknowledgment may have a plural form, which is acknowledgment. The noun can be countable or uncountable since you can only use the plural form in certain contexts. 

If you’re referring to a section of a book, article, etc., you may call it acknowledgments or a collection of acknowledgments–for example:

  • You’re the first person I mentioned in my book’s acknowledgments.
  • I will be delivering special acknowledgments at the end of the meeting.

However, in general situations, acknowledgment is an uncountable noun. This form applies to the act of acknowledging something. Use it on the written statement saying a message is received also–for example:

  • The registrar emailed an acknowledgment that they received your transcript of records.
  • The victim didn’t get an acknowledgment of his payment.

Acknowledgment Synonyms

  • Citation.
  • Appreciation.
  • Credit.
  • Reaction.
  • Mention.
  • Acceptance.
  • Recognition.
  • Commendation. 
  • Admission.
  • Avowal. 
  • Yielding.
  • Notice.
  • Concession.
  • Confession.
  • Confirmation. 
  • Self-confession.

Here are some related words.

  • Affirmation.
  • Claim. 
  • Profession.
  • Awareness.
  • Realization.
  • Accession.
  • Agreement.
  • Consent.
  • Assent.
  • Declaration.
  • Insistence.
  • Concurrence.
  • Acquiescence.

Examples of Acknowledgment in a Sentence

Though both forms can be found everywhere, acknowledgment is the correct spelling and preferred in American and Canadian publications such as these:

The acknowledgment of a possible al Qaeda role came at a congressional hearing in which government officials were peppered with questions. [Wall Street Journal]

I yearned for his attention and acknowledgment. [Globe and Mail]

It may seem odd for the author of a book on human genetics and heredity to thank his travel agent in the acknowledgments. [New York Times]

Outside North America, acknowledgement is preferred—for example:

But it is also a tacit acknowledgement that e-readers may not be a quick fix for raising learning achievement. [Guardian]

The Treasurer made the acknowledgement following concerns about weakening Chinese demand for steel. [Australian]

Witness Zadie Smith, in the acknowledgements to NW, thanking the internet-blocking software Freedom and SelfControl. [Irish Times]

The Bottom Line on Acknowledgment

So, basically, if you’re using the term for content that has a primarily US audience, use the spelling acknowledgment. Although both forms are accepted pretty much anywhere, the pesky spelling difference is important. Now that you understand acknowledgment vs. acknowledgement, you can use it with confidence!

Want more breakdowns like this to help with your writing? Check what we have to say about the words cloth or clothes!

15 thoughts on “Acknowledgement Vs Acknowledgment”

  1. In my American dictionary, acknowledgement is the first choice, meaning it is preferred. The verb is acknowledge. You’re adding the ending “ment” to it. There’s no reason to drop the “e”, and I think the Wall Street Journal misspelled it.

    However, the word judgment has no “e” in the middle, although people misspell it all the time.

    English is a confusing language with many inconsistencies!

    • When we say something is “preferred,” read this as “much more common in real-world usage.” What dictionaries say does not enter into it. Dictionaries are historical documents. They record how words and phrases have been used in the past, and they are often behind the times–often many decades behind the times, with certain words. Dictionaries are useful, but they are not reliable for researching current usage trends.

      “Judgement” and “judgment” have their own set of issues. See here:

    • In addition, MJ, the distinction you try to make between acknowledgment
      and judgment does not exist. Each word’s verb form end in “-dge”:
      acknowledge and judge. You are correct, however, that English is
      confusing and riddled with inconsistencies. On that point, everyone is

  2. I’m in the US (as opposed to “an American” since that’s the entire hemisphere), and I always use “judgement” which is entirely correct (check an unabridged). I do so because it’s a rendering from a judge, and phoenetic pronounciation looks awkward without the “e.” Same applies (IMHO) to acknowledgement.

    • Well, technically Greenland and parts of Spain and Africa are in the Western hemisphere. Also, most Spanish speakers from the Americas refer to U.S. Americans as americanos, as do speakers of other languages. So why the resistance, I’m curious? I suppose there are two meanings to the word, one for coming from the American continent and the other for the nation, but usually the meaning is clear.

      • Thanks for the geography heads-up. I had never thought of the Western Hemisphere extending so far east.

        The meaning of “Americans’ is accepted by context and default — and arrogance. Those from countries south of the border have told me they consider the US as a country with no name, inasmuch as they too are “Americans.” When you enter the country at the Rio Grande, you’re asked by a federal agent what nationality you are, and if you answer “American” they respond, “North American, Central American or South American?” … and proceed to narrow it down from there.

        We certainly have no unique name. Consider Mexico whose official name is United States of Mexico. At best those of us in the country between Mexico and Canada might be called the United States North of Mexico.

        • Well, technically the official demonym for a citizen of the USA is ‘American.’ Most people outside the US refer to someone in the United States as an American likewise, whilst citizens from the rest of the Americas are referred to by the country they live in. (ie Mexican, Argentinian, Colombian) A Brazilian calling themselves American, although politically correct, would sound strange to most people.

          However, I agree that more people should understand the difference between ‘America’ and ‘the United States.’ I think calling the country America (as opposed to the USA), is incorrect.

        • The US is the only country in the world with the word America in the name, hence the abbreviation to America. It’s the exact same as Mexico being called Mexico as you pointed out. Is Mexico arrogant for being called Mexico? Ridiculousness.

  3. “In my American dictionary, acknowledgement is the first choice, meaning it is preferred. ”

    This is a misunderstanding of how most dictionaries work. Look in the front of your dictionary, under the note for order of senses. You’ll find in most cases that the first meaning is the oldest one, not the “preferred” one. (So culprit in most dictionaries is listed first as meaning accused, not as the later (and only current) meaning, the one who did the crime.

    Perhaps someday people who pronounce on grammar topics will read the first pages of their dictionaries.

    • I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but the last time I looked at a print dictionary (more than a few years before your post was made), it said that was the case for the meanings, but I don’t believe it addressed spellings. In this case, the alternate spellings might be listed alphabetically


  4. In looking at the history, it is noteworthy that in the King James Bible, dating to 1611, “acknowledgement” is spelled with the “e” in the only place it appears, whereas “judgment” (which appears much more often, as one would suppose) is consistently without the “e.”


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