Word War: Adviser vs Advisor

If your job is to offer professional advice to people, are you an adviser or an advisor? We’ve seen several job titles with such words: we have financial advisor, travel advisor, and marketing strategy advisor. 

However, people seem to use a different spelling of the word: some use advisor while others use adviser.

So which one is correct? And is there a difference between the two? Lastly, which version is better used in communication?

Adviser vs Advisor: Which Is Correct?

Both spellings are correct. They refer to the same thing: someone who advises. Broadly, it means someone who offers advice.

Adviser is the older version of the word. It entered the English lexicon in the 1500s decades before the advisor version did. However, that doesn’t mean that the latter is incorrect.

Adviser vs Advisor: What Is the Difference?

Really, the only difference is their spelling. Both words are called agent nouns, a noun referring to someone performing an action. These are in the same category with dancer, singer, writer, and many others.

Many people think that the difference in spelling means a difference in meaning. That misconception is understandable, such as in every day vs everyday or discrete vs discreet. But this is not the case with this pair.

Their root word is the verb advise. The suffixes added to the verb to create the agent nouns gave us these variations. The suffix -or is normally appended to Latin-based agent nouns while -er is of Germanic root. Beyond that, the word’s meaning, regardless of the suffix, stays the same.

Adviser vs Advisor: Which One to Use?

The best approach is to choose a spelling and use it consistently. However, it can also depend on the writing guidelines you use.

For example, Associated Press (AP) says that the correct spelling is adviser, so their writers use this version consistently. The Chicago Manual of Styles, however, simply suggests using the spelling primarily listed in Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which is the -er variation.

Some people also claim that advisor is the more formal version and is preferred in official titles. However, you also see the -er version used in professional titles.

There is hardly any rule that dictates which one is correct in any context. However, when an organization or corporation uses the –or version for their official job title, it is wise to use that consistently when referring to them as well.

To summarize, both spellings are correct and mean the same thing. Just choose one spelling and use it consistently. Lastly, adhere to your writing style guidelines for which spelling to use.


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