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Is the only difference that in USA they write it with s and in UK they write it with c, or is there anything more?

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Defeat of deduct went over defense before detail. – oosterwal Mar 10 '11 at 23:50

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

That is the only difference, yes. The British National Corpus and the Corpus of Historical American English have the following usage stats:

            BNC    COCA

defence   11709     570
defense     207   59677

Wiktionary marks defence as Commonwealth, and The American Heritage Dictionary marks it as Chiefly British.

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This is true for defence*/*defense, but it's worth remembering that for some other pairs (e.g. license*/*licence, practise*/*practice) American usage always prefers the "s" spelling, but British usage uses "s" for the verb and "c" for the noun. (It can helpful in remembering which way round the s/c go, if you notice that it's the same way round as advise/advice, which are pronounced differently and thus easier to recall!) – psmears Mar 10 '11 at 18:18
+1 @psmears and I will throw in a few related links: License and licence, Practise v. practice, and Can “advise” be used with the definition of “advice”? – RegDwigнt Mar 10 '11 at 18:25
I’m not confident enough in this to make it a separate answer, but isn’t there some difference in pronunciation? I feel like in BrE the first vowel is always unstressed and usually quite reduced, whereas in AmE, it can often be stressed and long, especially in some sporting contexts, and in any case is not usually so strongly reduced? – PLL Mar 11 '11 at 0:19
@PLL: I've noticed this too especially, as you mentioned, in sporting contexts. If you have a listen to the sports commentators (in Fifa and Madden video games, for example) the difference is clear. BrE sounds more contracted (like d'fence) and AmE sounds more like deefence. – Andy F Mar 11 '11 at 10:29
@AndyF: AmE distinguishes "DEfense" (the team or role, chiefly in sports) from "deFENCE" (other contexts, e.g. in "Defense of Fort McHenry") – Mechanical snail Jul 11 '12 at 19:00

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