Counselor or counsellor — which is correct?

You read a book, and then an article. You come across some words that look alike but are not identical, and you raise your eyebrows. For example, have counselor and counsellor the same or different meaning, or are they basically the same? Is one form incorrect? When two words are suspiciously similar, it’s better to look things up. Here we go.

Counselor or counsellor? Which form is correct meaning definition correct form difference examples

Counselor or counsellor — which is the correct form?

Both counsellor and counselor are correct, and their meaning is identical. Why do they have different spellings, then? The answer is, as usual, related to geography, so to speak. One spelling, counselor, is common in American English, while counsellor appears in British English.

Counsellor and counselor — the meaning

Counsellor or counselor is an adviser, a person who gives councils. Sometimes the term is used in reference to a social worker, or a senior British diplomatic officer. The American term counselor-at-law describes a lawyer, an attorney.

Counsellor (BrE) Counselor (AmE)
accredited… certified…
debt… credit…
marriage guidance… marriage…

Some neutral collocations include: professional, trained, family, grief, mental-health or verbs see to, talk to.

Counsellor or counselor — examples in literature

‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors that feelingly persuade me of what I am’.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599

‘A field-marshal has his uniform; a bishop his silk apron; a counsellor his silk gown; a beadle his cocked hat. Strip the bishop of his apron, or the beadle of his hat and lace; what are they? Men. Mere men’

Charles Dickens, Olivier Twist, 1838

‘This is how we came by our factions: Candor, Erudite, Amity, Abnegation and Dauntless.” Max smiles. “In them we find administrators and teachers and counselors and leaders and protectors. In them we find our sense of belonging, our sense of community, our very lives’.

Veronica Roth, The Transfer, 2013

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Passionately in love with English — a romance initiated by reading Tolkien’s books that finally lead her too far, and now she is an English philology graduate. She loves learning, especially when it comes to languages. Interested in visual arts, history and DIY.