Should you use '-ize' or '-ise'?

Could someone please tell me if it is wrong to use ‘-ize’ at the end of words such as ‘realize’? I have been told that this is an American spelling, and that it should be ‘realise’, but on the Oxford Dictionaries site, you use a ‘z’ for both the US and British dictionaries:


  • Everyone has their own take; -ise endings are certainly more popular in the UK but Oxford Dictionaries follow the Oxford University Press editorial policy which stipulates the use of -ize for etymological reasons. Note that some words always need -ise suffixes. There is a good summary here.

  • If you can buy yourself a copy of Fowler's then it is a worthwhile investment and contains an entry on your question.

    This is a quote from the online version:
    "The primary rule is that all words of the type authorize/authorise, civilize/civilise, legalize/legalise, where there is a choice of ending, may be legitimately spelt with either -ize or -ise throughout the English-speaking world (except in America, where -ize is always used). Oxford University Press and other publishing houses (including The Times until recently) prefer -ize; Cambridge University Press and others prefer -ise.
    "The reason there is a choice is that the -ize ending, which corresponds to the Greek verbal ending -izo (whether or not the particular verb existed in Greek in the same form), has come to English in many cases via Latin and French sources, and in French the spelling has been adapted to -ise. ... People are generally aware of the choice, but often mistakenly regard the -ize ending as an Americanism"

    As mentioned in the previous post, there are some words which must use -ise.

  • I stick to the 'size' version because in my opinion it better reflects the pronunciation of words with this ending.

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