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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Offence or offense?

Recently for some reason, I thought about the spelling variations offence and offense. I don’t know why, but I wondered how confusing the spelling of this word could be. We are so used to seeing similar words such as licence and license, that it would be easy to use the incorrect spelling. Luckily the situation in Australia is very clear.

The spelling in Australia is offence. Offense is the American spelling.

Interestingly, if you perform a search using Google for just pages from Australia, for “I took offence” and “I took offense”, the number of results returned are 33,300 and 162,000 respectively. That means a staggering proportion of over eighty per cent of pages on Australian sites are using the incorrect spelling.

If you’re in doubt about the correct or preferred Australian English spelling of a word, you can use my Word Check tool located at If you’d like to use the preferred Australian English spelling with Microsoft Office or Internet Explorer 10, you can find products on the Australian Dictionary site

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator and maintainer of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.    
UPDATE: The results from Google just didn't feel right. I decided to redo the test using my Custom Search Engine (which uses Google services) and limits pages to domains ending in .au. The search engine can be found at This test shows most pages use the correct spelling. Not really sure what Google is then displaying when it comes to pages from Australia.

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