Customise vs. customize

  • In the U.S. and Canada, it’s customize, customized, customizing, customization, customizable, etc. Outside North America, it’s customise, customised, customising, customisation, customisable, etc.



    Customize is a mid-20th-century American creation, so the spelling is the original. The word is so new that some dictionaries, including the main British ones, have yet to recognize customise etc., but that spelling is now very common in all sorts of texts from outside North America. In recent British news stories, for instance, customise appears about 20 times for every customize. In Canada and the U.S., meanwhile, customize appears about 500 times for every customise.


    1. I think that the “-ize” suffix is very well understood (actualize, fossilize, economize, moralize). It would be interesting to know how “customise” became popuar in British english.

      • Uberuser says

        Honestly, I think it’s probably because some Brits can be quite snobby about spelling and using a ‘z’ looks American. I guess it could also be the British way of claiming the word as their own. It’s probably as petty as that.

        • Conner Beckingsale says

          We just prefer the letter s over z for example Americans use organize while the UK and most of Europe use organise. It’s due to the fact that the creator of the US language as you know it Noah Webster changed the way you spell things to further remove the US from the UK language and using the letter z instead of s is one of them. It’s as petty as that…

      • Emma Chiswell says

        It’s only understood in one area of the world ie the States. The rest of the world use the correct spelling which is ‘ise’. The American’s changed it when you created your ‘New World’.

        • I’m not from the States.
          I’m an Spanish native speaker, and in this language, this suffix is also spelled with z (-izar: estandarizar, fosilizar, economizar, etc). This suffix comes from latin -izare.
          I made a little research on google and it seems that this suffix is not as standard as I thought. In french is spelled with s (-iser: standardiser, fossiliser, économiser, etc).
          I think that US english has more spanish influence, since most America countries’s language is spanish, and -ize is preferred. While UK has more European (French) influence and -ise is also used.

    2. Riel Landry says

      Customise is correctly spelled, ( not spelt ), C U S TO M I S E, in Canada.

      • Emma Chiswell says

        It’s Customise and Spelt! Bloody Yanks and Canadians just bastardising our language!!

        • Eno Tnias says

          ‘Bastardising Your language?’ Have you any idea how the English language came to be? It’s a language made up of many parts of many different languages as a result of so many different conquering nations that came in and ruled for a time. Thus, if you want to use that term, there is a strong argument to be made that the English language has, from its origin, been bastardized from other languages. Respectively, it doesn’t even remotely resemble any of the languages of the original peoples of what are today called the British Isles. We are simply pleased that the language is still evolving; and, with its global popularity remains a great source for the meeting of minds and peaceful communication between people everywhere.

    3. Graham macLachlan says

      snore… the s spelling is prevalent in the UK but it isn’t official, and Oxford preferred spelling uses the z form for most verbs, the exceptions being the ones that come directly from the French or end in -lyse

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