‘Offence' vs 'Offense': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 24, 2023

Should you take ‘offence’ or ‘offense’ to something someone said? What’s the difference between these two words? We’ll cover that in this article, plus teach you how to use the correct one in a sentence.

In short, ‘offense’ is the way you spell the word in American English. In other English-speaking countries, ‘offence’ is the more common spelling of the word.

‘Offence’ vs. ‘Offense’ – What is the Difference? 

As you just learned, the difference between these two words is that ‘offence’ is the way you spell the word outside of the U.S. in other English-speaking countries. However, in the U.S., the word is spelled with an ‘s’ instead of a ‘c.’

‘Offense’ vs. ‘Offence’ – Why Are They Spelled Differently?

You know the difference between the two words, but why are they spelled differently? You might be wondering.

Some words in the English language have alternative spellings. Oftentimes, there’s a UK or British English spelling of a word and an American English version.

There are slight variations between some of our words, including words like artefact and artifact.

They’re subtle differences most of the time, but they exist, so you should at least be aware of them and know you’re spelling the correct version of the word for your audience.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Offence’ and ‘Offense’

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of these words is the act of displeasing or upsetting.

When you take offense, it means you get upset over something someone said to you or about you.

When you offend someone, it means you’re the one who said something that someone else didn’t like.

It could also refer to the opposite team or the team that will play offensively rather than defensively in a sports game like football.

Other definitions of the word include assault, scoring ability, sin, and a stumbling block.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Offence’ and ‘Offense’

Unsure of how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce both words, use the phonetic spelling: UH-FENS

How to Use ‘Offence’ and ‘Offense’ in a Sentence

Now that we know what the words mean and how to pronounce them let’s look at a few examples of how to use them in a sentence.

  • No offense, but I’ve been doing theater way longer than you. I think I know what I’m talking about.
  • I never take offense to anything Kathy says. She’s so miserable; all she has is gossip.
  • Would you take offense if your boyfriend called you fat?
  • I’m not one to take offense, but what he said was outrageous!
  • The offense isn’t doing its job anymore. We’re getting clobbered out on the field tonight.
  • I have no reason to take offense. I don’t even care what you think.

Final Thoughts on ‘Offence’ and ‘Offense’

To recap, you learned that ‘offence’ and ‘offense’ mean the same thing. The former is the UK spelling of the word, and the latter is the U.S. English spelling of the word.

If you ever forget or get stuck, you can always come back for more help. We’ve also got an entire library of content on confusing words and phrases you might come across while learning the language. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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