Is normalise perhaps obsolete in British English, and normalize preferred instead?

I have done some Googling, it seems British English dictionaries prefer normalize, but I haven't found any satisfactory answers from native speakers. I would like to hear about usage and "how it sounds" (the formality), maybe if there are any reasons to use both forms in different situations.

(The question arose when reading something about vector normalization.)


In my experience (as a BrE speaker who works in IT, where I suppose the word does sometimes crop up), "normalise" definitely isn't obsolete. I use "normalise", and similarly I stick to "realise", "formalise" and so on. Many Brits use "ise" endings and many use "ize", not just for "normalis/ze" but for all the rest. Each person is likely to be consistent in their own usage. I can't imagine anyone using an "ise" ending for most such words but then switching to "ize" for "normalize" - that just seems inconsistent for no good reason.


I am not a native speaker, but I am in IT spell it with a Z in code comments

Google NGram produces these graphs

British GB American US

  • Ha! This proves that the use of 'normalise' has been at an all-time high since 2000 (amongst other things). – Edwin Ashworth Mar 19 '13 at 14:57
  • 1
    @Edwin: It proves you need to be careful with normalised graphs when you have less data after 2000, perhaps why Google by default sets the end date as 2000. – Hugo Mar 24 '13 at 8:12

I'm a native Englishman working in IT, and most people I know (including myself) use normalise in written communication. I also use normalise() throughout vector libraries that I've written in the past. This is not uncommon in SDK's developed by UK companies.

Very few people use normalize() in the UK, although it is now more common in people for whom English is a second language (Americanisation of teaching materials perhaps?). Similarly centre vs. center, colour vs color, the pronunciation zed instead of zee for "z" etc.

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