Both of them are used: visualization and visualisation.

Visualisation is more commonly used in UK.
But, visualization is more common in US.

What is the history of this word?
Which is officially correct?

  • 2
    Both are officially correct.
    – apaderno
    Apr 24, 2013 at 19:09
  • 2
    IMO, the history of the word is off-topic for ELL - and is an entirely different question to "which is correct" (in general, etymology questions are IMO a better fit for ELU.StackExchange). I've answered the other parts of your question in my answer below.
    – Matt
    Apr 24, 2013 at 19:19
  • 1
    You can usually get a brief history of just about any word at this site: etymonline.com. If you have further questions after digging around at that site, and the questions stem from that fact that you're having trouble understanding English, then you could ask a follow-up question here. If it's a more in-depth question about etymology in general, though, you might use ELU instead.
    – J.R.
    Apr 24, 2013 at 20:36
  • There are many words with different spellings in the U.K. then in the U.S. Two broad categories are words that use "z" is the US but "s" in the UK like your example, and words that use "ou" in the UK but just "o" in the US (e.g. "colour" vs "color"). I'm an American and I once wrote an article for an Australian magazine. They changed all my spellings to Australian/UK spellings. I told my friends it was my first foreign-language publication.
    – Jay
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


"Visualization" is the only correct spelling in American English.

"Visualisation" and "visualization" are both acceptable in British English although it is a common misconception that "visualization" is an Americanism and therefore incorrect.

Oxford resolutely prefers "ize" forms - see visualize in the British English Oxford Dictionary - and a lot of academic writing follows their lead but most mass market publications prefer "ise".

There's more information in Wikipedia and an interesting article with further references.

  • +1, it is worth noting that also The Cambridge Guide to Eng. Us. says: "in British English it's possible to use either "ise" or "ize", and the arguments are almost equally balanced."
    – user114
    Apr 24, 2013 at 20:31

You've answered your own question. In the UK the following spelling is correct:


In the US, the following spelling is correct:


This is one of a number of different spellings between British English and American English. Neither is "more correct" than the other - British English spellings are correct in the UK and not in the US.

As a learner, you know better than anyone whether knowing British English or American English is more suitable for you. If you need to learn US English, learn the US spellings. If your learning means British English is more useful to you, learn the British English ones.

  • Matt, but, according to Wikipedia, this is not just a UK vs US, but how you weight the Greek origin vs. French intermediates in the etymology of these word :)
    – user114
    Apr 24, 2013 at 19:42
  • 2
    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_spelling prefers "visualization".
    – user114
    Apr 24, 2013 at 19:44
  • 1
    Indeed. American spelling always uses z but either s or z are acceptable in British English (although it is a reasonably common misconception that z is exclusively American) Apr 24, 2013 at 19:46
  • @Carlo_R.: english.stackexchange.com/questions/707/…
    – Matt
    Apr 24, 2013 at 19:49
  • 2
    @Matt Both of those links confirm that s & z are acceptable in British spelling. From wikipedia "British spelling uses both -ize and -ise" and from the accepted answer in ELU "the Oxford English dictionary even gives "organization" as the first spelling". Apr 24, 2013 at 19:57

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