Dietician vs. Dietitian – Meaning & Correct Spelling

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

The American language is full of words with more than one spelling, causing confusion (and occasionally irritation) when a less acceptable spelling is used. Dietician and dietitian are the perfect examples of spelling variations that create some annoyance in the professional nutrition field of study, so using the most acceptable spelling is essential.

Let’s look at the variation of these spellings, so you understand the origin, meaning, use, and which spelling is the most appropriate.

What’s the Difference Between Dietician and Dietitian?

Dietitian vs. Dietician Ngram
Dietitian vs. Dietician Usage Trend.

Dietitian is a variant spelling of dietician, the older word. A dietitian is employed to tell others about their diet or how they eat and make suggestions to help improve their health and nutrition. In short, they are experts in the study of dietetics.

The spelling variation dietitian is used about three times as much as dietician and is considered the more appropriate modern spelling.

Dietician was the original title of those who specialized in dietary needs in cooking schools. Through the years, this title changed to meet a wider explanation of dietary needs, and with it came a change in spelling.

Let’s look at the word’s origins and pinpoint when the spelling changed to the more acceptable dietitian.

The Meaning and Origin of Dietician

Dietician vs. Dietitian Meaning Correct Spelling

The title of dietician originated in 1845 after the inception of professional cooking schools. The graduates were called dietists or dieticians due to their diet or food preparation expertise.

The name was quickly adapted by physicians who specialized in dietetics or the application of the science of nutrition to control health and disease.

For example:

  • The dietician created the tour menu, considering each guest’s specialized dietary needs.

The Meaning and Origin of Dietitian

By 1899, the title dietitian was used to refer to any professional, physician or otherwise, who specialized in nutritional knowledge and diet therapy needs as a medical necessity. The first dietitians were hospital workers who provided meals to their patients while meeting the nutritional needs required for hospital and home recovery.

The term was formalized in 1917 with the inception of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and currently continues to recognize dietitian as the correct spelling variant.

For example:

  • My physician had me make an appointment with a dietitian when my bloodwork showed early-onset diabetes.
  • The dietitian suggested various changes to my diet so I could meet my nutrition needs and still keep training for the weightlifting competition.

Let’s Review

If you wanted to know how to spell dietitian, your best bet is to stay with the spelling that uses the t, not the c, even though that was the original spelling. Dietitian is the more widely used and acceptable spelling and is recognized by professionals in the field of nutritional needs.