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Judgment Vs. Judgement: Which Spelling Is Correct?

Many of our readers are curious about the spellings judgment and judgement. Judgement is typically flagged by word processors as an incorrect spelling, but online, you can find both spellings with nearly equal frequency. There are number of instances such as this with debated spelling of various words (which makes language so interesting!).  For example, toward vs. towards, alright vs. all right, barbecue vs. barbeque, etc.

British Vs. American Spelling

Generally, judgement is the British spelling, while judgment is the American spelling. H.W. Fowler’s book, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, was published in the early twentieth century and stated that modern usage favored the spelling judgment. However, Fowler himself preferred the spelling judgement.

Uses of Both Variants

The Revised Version of the Bible uses the spelling judgement, but Shakespeare varied between judgment and judgement (starting with an I). Today, the Oxford English Dictionary prefers the spelling judgement and acknowledges judgment as a variant form of the word. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster prefers the spelling judgment, listing judgement as a variant form. The English Pronouncing Dictionarywritten by Daniel Jones, prints the entry word as judg(e)ment, effectively covering both bases. 

Notably, the words acknowledgement/acknowledgment and abridgement/abridgment follow the same British/American rule as judgement/judgment. 

The aforementioned Fowler has a rule and an exception for working with words that end with a mute E:

The Rule

When adding a suffix to a word that ends with a mute E, you must drop the mute E before a vowel, but not before a consonant.

The Exception

You must keep the E, even before a vowel, if it’s necessary to emphasize or preserve the soft sound of a preceding C or G. 

A related question from our readers is whether the term cacheing is correct, or if it should be spelled caching (from the root word cache). Cache follows the rule above, dropping the mute E to be spelled as caching. 

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By Jessica Allen

Jessica is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish.

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