Word Wizard | Adviser or advisor? What's the correct spelling?

Spelling explained: adviser or advisor?

Posted: 29th Sep 2013

One word that commonly causes spelling confusion is adviser. Or should that be advisor? Is one variant more common, or more correct, than the other? Let’s investigate…

According to the New Penguin English Dictionary:

“adviser or advisor, noun: somebody who gives advice, esp professionally in specialised field”

Note that the spelling ‘adviser’ is listed first; this is usually an indication of the most common variant.

Now take the example as featured in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (9th ed). Oxford is somewhat firmer:

“adviser, noun (also disp, advisor): a person who advises, esp one appointed to do so and regularly consulted”

In this case, disp. is used to mean disputed. The anomaly prompts a second entry explaining usage:

“The variant form advisor is fairly common but is considered incorrect by some people. Its spelling is probably influenced by the adjective advisory”

Adviser, taken from the Old French root aviser or the Latin visare, make it the older, and therefore more trusted variant.

However, there is anecdotal evidence the North American preferred advisor is becoming more common. A familiar sight in the windows of the UK’s cafes and restaurants is the ‘TripAdvisor’ travel recommendation website logo. This is a company with American origins, hence the advisor spelling. How long before this spelling catches on in an even bigger way?

The adviser/advisor argument is a good example of our language in flux, reflecting the notion that it is a fluid beast that reacts to outside influence. So, as long as you stick to one or the other for consistency’s sake in your work, you can choose the spelling you prefer.

For the record, my preference is adviser.