Advisor vs Adviser

What is the proper spelling: adviser or advisor?  In case both versions are correct, what is the difference between these English nouns?

In fact, there is no crucial difference between the two words. You can use either of them and neither will be a mistake. “Adviser” is more common in Great Britain and is considered more conventional, while “advisor” is a newer version employed mostly by Americans. Both nouns are derived from the verb “to advise” which is also often correlated with “advice”. In the latter case, however, spelling is critical for the meaning.

Nevertheless, let’s get back to the subject. The words “adviser” and “advisor” are used to denote a person or a company that offers professional advice, usually in a particular field.  They can also mean an official who helps a company CEO or a manager as well as a private business or even a country’s president. Dictionaries define the term as follows:

  • A skilled and experienced professional in a particular field of knowledge providing advice within his or her competence.
  • A company hired by a mutual fund for professional counseling regarding investment and asset management methods. An investment adviser is responsible for the development of investment policy which an investment manager will subsequently be guided by.
  • An officer who is responsible for helping students make their choices. The adviser’s duties include explaining available types of education, the content of academic courses, the influence of the student’s choice on his or her process of getting a degree as well as the consequences of any failures and providing guidance for the choice of courses which are most suitable for achieving the student’s goals in education.
  • A title given to prosecution or investigation officers, justice institution officers, government notaries and certain establishment officers.

Advisor vs Adviser Usage Examples:

He was employed as a financial adviser by a world-known company when he was rather young.

Today, the National Security Advisor of the USA has presented a foreign policy efficiency enhancement plan.

James Bullock, an art collector, hired a personal art adviser hoping that he would save his time when negotiating with galleries.

If you look through a number documents, newspapers and magazines, you will find both versions. For example, Associated Press, one of the largest international information and news agencies, writes “adviser”; the Forbes’ editors use “advisor”; the United Nations always prefer “Special Advisors” while the US government uses both spellings. Nevertheless, “adviser” is much more common. According to the statistics, in the USA, “adviser” can be found 20 times as frequently as “advisor”, while in Britain it is used 6 times as frequently. Despite this, “adviser” is listed in most British, American, Canadian and Australian dictionaries.

President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, urged Pakistani civilian and military leaders on Sunday to do more to stop militants from using Pakistani territory to stage attacks in neighboring countries. –New York Times

“You don’t just buy your art, you buy your advisor and then your advisor tells you what to do.” – BBC

The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, one of US president George Bush’s most trusted lieutenants and a strong advocate of the invasion of Iraq, made the concession during a series of interviews on major American news programmes. – The Guardian.

Although both forms are acceptable, most dictionaries, writers and scientists prefer the -er spelling, while -or is more common in news headlines and American publications in press, especially those of North America. So, it is up to you to decide which one to use. It is just a matter of taste. However, the use of both spellings in a single text should be avoided. If you are going to write an article, a news report or another kind of text, think about your readers, consider your location and that of your audience, select the version you find suitable and stick to it.