Skeptic vs. Sceptic

  angbeenc  —  Grammar Tips

There are many spelling differences between American and British English. In some cases, the same word will be spelled one way in American English and another way in British English. There are times when this inconsistency is very confusing. Skeptic and sceptic fall under the same category and if you need to know the difference between the two spellings, keep reading.


Skeptic originated in late 16th century (in sense 2 of the noun): from French sceptique, or via Latin from Greek skeptikos, from skepsis ‘inquiry, doubt’.

Skeptic as noun:

Skeptic is used as a noun in English language where it means a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.

She is a skeptic, she can never choose a point of view.

In philosophy, an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere is also called a skeptic.

Skeptic as adjective:

Skeptic is also used as an adjective to describe a skeptic person.

Use of Sceptic:

Sceptic is preferred in the main varieties of English from outside North America, in England, Australia and New Zealand etc. So if your audience are non-Americans, you should use these spellings.  


A leading climate sceptic patronised by the oil billionaire Koch brothers faced a potential investigation today. [The Guardian]

The days when you could plausibly call yourself a sceptic while refusing to countenance withdrawal from the EU are over. [Telegraph]

But when it comes to The Farmer Wants a Wife, it’s really hard to keep the sceptic fires burning. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Use of Skeptic:

Skeptic is the preferred spelling in American and Canadian English. If you are writing for American or Canadian audience, you should use these spellings in your article.


A prominent Canadian climate scientist is suing a leading climate skeptic for libel. [New York Times]

Bilingualism skeptic Jim Cougle contends the hearing should be public. [CBC]

The eye, of course, has long been a favorite example for both Darwin proponents and skeptics because of its intricacy. [Forbes]

Skeptic or sceptic:

In most of their senses, there is no difference between skeptic and sceptic. Skeptic is the preferred spelling in American and Canadian English, and sceptic is preferred in the main varieties of English from outside North America. This extends to all derivatives, including sceptical/skeptical and scepticism/skepticism. There is an exception, though: In reference to some 21st-century strains of scientific skepticism, writers and publications from outside North America often use the spellings with the k.