‘Realise' or 'Realize': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on December 23, 2022

'Realise' or 'Realize': are they the same word, or do they have different meanings? What's the difference between the two? That's what we're here to uncover. Read on.

In short, the two words carry the same meaning but are spelled differently depending on where you're based. 'Realise' is the American English spelling, and 'realize' is the British English spelling.

Is It 'Realise' or 'Realize?'

'Realize' and 'realise' are the same word, with different spellings. How you spell it will depend on the country you or your target audience is located in.

If you're based in the United States of America, you'll want to use 'realize.' If you're in the United Kingdom, you'll be better off using 'realize.' And usually, Canada adheres to American spelling standards, while New Zealand and Australia tend to stick to British spellings. However, I am generalizing here as there are exceptions.

The differences between American and British spellings date back to the 1800s when Noah Webster published his dictionary, aiming to standardize American spellings. He sought to ensure words were spelled as closely as possible to how they sounded. That's why there are so many words that differ in spelling from American to British, such as 'mom' vs 'mum,' 'color' vs 'colour' or 'fiber' vs 'fibre,'

And that's why there is a -z in 'realize' - because there's a 'z' sound in the last syllable.

Many other words took on a 'z' instead of an 's' when converted to the American spelling. Some of those include:

'Realise' or 'Realize' Definition

So what does it mean? After all, no use trying to spell it if we don't know the meaning of the word.

For the sake of simplicity, from here on out, we'll use the American spelling.

'Realize' is a verb that can mean one of two things: 'to be or become aware of' or, as the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it, "​​to bring into concrete existence."

As it's a verb, 'realize' can take on other forms when conjugated. The question of whether to spell these variations with an 's' or a 'z' is subject to the same rules: spell it with an 's' in British English and a 'z' in American English. These are:

  • Realizing/realising
  • Realized/realised

'Realize': Examples

Let's take a look at some examples of sentences that use the word 'realize.' These sentences will include the word in both its possible meanings. See if you can decipher which is which.

Do you realize the importance of this collaboration for our company?

I'm so proud of you; you've realized your wildest dreams.

She said she didn't realize he felt that way.

Unfortunately, his worst fears have been realized.

He suddenly realized what she meant.

Concluding Thoughts on 'Realise' or 'Realize'

See, that wasn't so bad, was it? Whether to use 'realise' or 'realize' is a pretty straightforward choice when you get down to it because, in fact, they're both acceptable in reality. You'll need to pick the most appropriate one based on your location or the audience you're writing for.

If you'd like to learn about more confusing words and American vs British spellings, check out our blog.

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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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