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Offence vs. Offense—What Is the Difference?

  • Offence and offense are both correct.
  • Offence is the spelling more commonly used outside of the United States.
  • Offense is the spelling more commonly used in the United States.

Offense is spelled differently based on where you, or your audience, are. But neither offense nor offence are wrong.

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Offence vs. offense—which is correct?

In one sense, offense means an attack. But it also means an affront or insult. Offense can also be spelled offence. The difference is that offense is the standard spelling in the United States, while offence is standard in other English-speaking countries. It’s just one example of the differences between British English and American English.

The team had troubles with their offense because they key player was injured.

No offense meant.

The offence was clearly much lighter than the punishment.

The adjective derived from offense, offensive, is spelled with an s in American and British English alike. It doesn’t have a version that’s spelled with c:

I found the comedian’s remarks about Her Majesty very offensive .

They could have won the game if they were more offensive .

It’s the same with the adverb offensively—it’s never spelled with a c:

He offensively prodded the air with two fingers, making a rude gesture.

Playing the game offensively isn’t always the best strategy.

Examples of offence and offense

Offensive in American publications

It didn’t seem to be in a way that meant offense, but he seemed so accustomed to alcohol being at weddings that he was perplexed.
The Huffington Post

Cal quarterback Davis Webb paced the Golden Bears’ offense by completing 32 of his 48 pass attempts to finish with 301 yards and two touchdowns.
Los Angeles Times

Offence outside the US

Henry also declined to answer further questions yesterday after issuing a statement on Saturday night saying he “meant no offence” to the two women he spoke about to Bruce.
The New Zealand Herald

Mounties say drivers are sent an email that states they’ve committed a driving offence and a fine will be mailed to them.
Global News

And speaking of words spelled differently in American and British English, did you know that omelet (or omelette) is one of them? Catalog is another one—it can also be spelled catalogue. And benefitted can also be spelled with only one t—that’s how they do it in the United States.

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