‘Councilor' vs 'Counselor': What's the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 17, 2023

'Councilor' vs 'counselor' are two words that sound exactly the same. So are they the same or different? And when should you use them? That's what we're about to find out.

The short version is that a 'councilor' is a professional who gives guidance on psychological issues. A 'counsilor' is a member of a council.

What's the Difference Between 'Councilor' vs 'Counselor'?

'Councilor' and 'counselor' are homonyms, which means they sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. There are many homonyms in the English language. Here are just a few:

The one thing the words have in common is that they are both nouns. But let's take a more in-depth look at the definition of each word.

'Councilor' Definition

A 'councilor' is a member of a council. A council is a group of people who have been elected to represent a particular movement, project, or organization. They are responsible for making decisions that will favor the cause or people they represent.

A common way to use the word 'council' is about the group that governs a town or city.

The plural form of the noun is 'councilors.'

'Counselor' Definition

A 'counselor' gives counsel. The term is generally used nowadays to refer to a professional who provides advice on a specific personal topic. There are marriage counselors, addiction counselors, guidance counselors, and so on.

Interestingly, etymology-wise, the words' councilor' and 'counselor' have the same root: the Old French "conseillier," which means "one who gives counsel or advice, a confidante." So although the two words have different meanings now, they used to be inseparable in meaning.

The plural noun for 'counselor' is 'counselors.'

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Councilor' vs 'Counselor'

I'm sure that now you know the meaning of each word, you'd like to know how to pronounce them. Well, the good news is that they're pronounced exactly the same since their homonyms.

Here's how the International Phonetic Alphabet spells them:


And they sound like this:


When to Use 'Councilor' vs 'Counselor'

Now let's look at some example sentences that use these words, so you can better understand how to use them in context.

Example Sentences of 'Councilor'

Let's start with the word 'councilor.' Here are some sentences that use the word in context:

The councilors got together to consider the new proposal for more bike lanes in the city.

Any new organization must first be approved by the counselors' committee that meets monthly.

Councilor Williams was the front-runner thanks to his campaign.

Example Sentences of 'Councelor'

Now, let's take a look at some example sentences that use the word 'counselor.'

My daughter's high school has an in-house guidance counselor to help the kids figure out what they want to do after graduation.

His counselor has him doing all sorts of wacky exercises, and he says it's helping.

A counselor's role is to provide support and encouragement for their patient.

Concluding Thoughts on 'Councilor' vs 'Counselor'

Hopefully, you now feel a lot more confident in your understanding of both words and when to use each one. If in doubt, just remember you can return to this article any time to double-check.

And if you'd like to learn about more confusing words, check out our blog.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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