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My work colleagues and I have been having a discussion about doctors (we work in healthcare), and we're split down the middle as to whether a specialist doctor would have a speciality, or a specialty (no "i"). Is there a specific use for each word, or can they be interchanged?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There seems to be divergence on that point: See Wikipedia. Others seem to think so as well.

I suspect that specialty is American English and speciality is British English.

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This resource has some nice examples of BrE vs AmE usage in the press. –  James Mar 5 at 15:38

Specialty is the word used in American English (the OED reports it's chiefly Northern American), while speciality is used in British English.

In medicine (as for what reported by the OED) both specialty and speciality are used.

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I can confirm that in UK hospitals, consultants refer to their Specialty rather than Speciality - I know this because I "helpfully" spellchecked the user interface for an NHS computer application, and then later had to revert it when they all complained! –  James McCormack Jun 30 at 10:45

It's standard US medical editing practice to change instances of "specialities" to "specialties." Note the certifying agency: American Board of Medical Specialties.

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Ideally, both of them mean the same thing. The usage is the only difference. Like prioritise and prioritize.

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