What Do “Adviser” And “Advisor” Mean?

Homophones are very tricky in English. One of the more difficult homophone pairs to remember is “adviser” and “advisor.” This is true because both words have very similar spelling and pronunciation and usually mean the same thing. Luckily, if you get these two mixed up, it will not be considered a major faux pas. Without further ado, let’s understand what these words mean and which one you should use in your writing! 

In short, “adviser” is a word that describes someone who gives advice. In comparison, “advisor” means the same thing but is spelled differently. According to most sources, “adviser” is the original and most correct spelling. 

Differences Between “Advisor” And “Adviser” 

Both “advisor” and “adviser” are considered to be “agent nouns,” meaning they indicate an individual who does something. In other words, they assign a role/job to someone, even if it isn’t their literal occupation. For instance, people who are reading are “readers,” and people who are dancing are “dancers.” 

The only difference between these two words is the suffixes “-or” and “-er.” While some people claim that “advisor” is the most formal version, there are many scholars that disagree. In fact, “adviser” is the spelling most commonly used in professional titles. 

Going along with the idea of suffixes, “-or” and “-er” don’t come from the same origin language, which may explain why some people favor one while others do not. 

Should You Say “Advisor” Or “Adviser?” 

Since neither spelling is technically wrong, you may be wondering if there is a specific one you should opt to use. The most important thing is consistency. If you choose to use “advisor” in your work, you should stick with it. 

Except for North America, “adviser” is the typical spelling globally. Additionally, “advisor” is usually the most common spelling in Canada and the United States. Then again, there are even some major American publications (such as The New York Times) that still prefer “adviser.” 

Related: British vs. U.S. Spellings

With all this being said, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble using either of these! 

Use Of Both Spellings Over Time

As you can see from the Google Ngram below, while “adviser” was used more frequently all throughout the 19th and 20th century, in the 2000’s both spelling became equally used

A google Ngram showing the use of advisor vs. adviser

Examples Using “Adviser” And “Advisor” 

Now that we know both of these words can be used interchangeably, let’s look at some examples of them: 

  • I wrote to my advisor, asking for help choosing courses for next semester. 
  • Before I got a managerial position, I worked as a mental health adviser. 
  • Regardless of all the input from financial advisors, the investors decided to take a risk. 

Examples From International Press

”And here Karl and I are, 20 years later, working across from each other in the West Wing of the White House for the son,” Ms. Tutwiler, 50, said. She is doing a three-month stint as an unpaid communications consultant. Mr. Rove is the senior adviser to the president. – The New York Times. 

Bismarke Rewane, a former economic advisor to the President said, the government lacked credibility among Nigerians. – The Guardian

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