• 3-minute read
  • 11th March 2020

Spelling Tips: Judgement or Judgment?

At Proofed, we’re often asked whether to use ‘judgement’ or ‘judgment’ in writing. But there isn’t a simple answer! It depends on preference, context, and dialect. So to help you avoid errors in your writing, we’ve prepared a short explainer of the spellings ‘judgement’ and ‘judgment’.

What Does Judgement Mean?

The noun ‘judgement’ usually means ‘decision’:

After some thought, he came to a judgement about what he should study.

It can also refer to the capacity to make decisions:

She always demonstrated good judgement over her career choices.

We could also use ‘judgment’ in the sentences above, but ‘judgement’ is the standard spelling for most contexts in British English. As such, we suggest including the extra ‘e’ as a default. This is a matter of preference, though, and both spellings are accepted in British English. Some style guides even prefer ‘judgment’, so remember to check yours if you have one!

When to Use Judgment in British English

There is one exception to the rule above in British English: legal writing.

If you’re referring to an official legal decision (e.g. the ruling of a judge), then, the standard spelling is ‘judgment’. For example:

The court passed down the judgment shortly after midday.

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Some people even use both spellings in a single document to distinguish between a legal decision (i.e. a judgment) and a non-legal decision or the capacity to make a decision (i.e. judgement). However, be very careful if you are going to do this, as it could easily become confusing for your reader!

Judgment in American English

In American English, the standard spelling of this word is always ‘judgment’:

After some thought, he came to a judgment about what he should study.

She always demonstrated good judgment over her career choices.

The court passed down the judgment shortly after midday.

This applies in both legal and non-legal writing. Consequently, ‘judgement’ would usually be deemed an error in the US and you should avoid this spelling if writing for a North American audience.

Summary: Judgement or Judgment?

This is a matter of preference most of the time in British English. You can use either ‘judgement’ or ‘judgment’ as long as you’re consistent! But remember:

  • Judgement is the standard spelling in British English.
  • In legal writing or when discussing the law, judgment is more common.
  • In American English, the standard spelling is always judgment.

And if you’d like any more help with spelling, or any element of your writing, why not submit a document for proofreading today?

Comments (4)
Dark Venture
24th January 2022 at 13:04
In British English the spelling of 'Judgement' is generally used as another example of decision or conclusion whereas the spelling of 'Judgment' is only ever used in a legal setting, i.e: "The judge handed down a judgment of 2 years probation." This is Law 101 stuff. The difference between the two is clearly outlined in the OED.
    24th January 2022 at 15:32
    Thanks for your comment, but we cover the legal context in the post already (see 'When to Use Judgment in British English'). And 'judgment' is now widely accepted in non-legal contexts in British English. For many authorities, it is still listed as a variant spelling in non-legal contexts. But some now even list it as the main spelling, quite probably reflecting its growing usage (see, e.g., the entry in the Cambridge Dictionary). It might be that your copy of the OED is a little out of date if it draws a hard distinction between the two!
Youssef Ezz
1st July 2022 at 10:19
The worker won a judg(e)ment against the company, in whose judg(e)ment employees were not entitled to overtime during Ramadan. In the sentence above, if I am following UK English, is the context considered legal? Is the answer judgment or judgEment? Thanks.
    1st July 2022 at 17:05
    Hi, Youssef. As noted in this post, 'judgment' is often considered the standard UK spelling in legal contexts, and it sounds like you're referring to an employment arbitration (which would count as a legal context). If you're using a specific style guide, though, it may be worth checking for guidance, as this is not necessarily a universal rule!

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