In American English revision is used in the sense of redaction, but in British English it’s used in the sense of studying for exams. So what do British English speakers say when they want to talk about “revisionist history” or “revised the terms of the agreement” or “revised his answer”?

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    I think OP is simply mistaken in supposing there's a UK/~US "split" for the meaning. It's true Americans tend to use review rather than revise more than Brits in some contexts, but I'd have thought we all know the different meanings perfectly well. Jul 28, 2013 at 15:35
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    The meanings are the same in British English. The only slight departure from what you have written, is that if I was speaking about someone revising his answer, as in learning it, I would tend to say, rehearse his answer.
    – user48193
    Jul 28, 2013 at 16:30
  • In AmE, "revision" means alteration. "Redaction" means removal of part. So "redaction" is a subset of "revise". Apr 7, 2022 at 5:17
  • @FumbleFingers In AmE, "revise" always means to alter. It never means to simply review/study. Apr 7, 2022 at 5:18
  • @Acccumulation: When UK politicians say they intend to review some aspect of legislation, that almost always implies ...with a view to revising [amending] it, but I don't know if US politicians do the same, and I can't see any easy way of checking that out. But math / maths is a pretty bulletproof way of distinguishing AmE / BrE texts, and it's easy to see that there are far more matches in Google Books for the sequence revising for a maths [test / exam / ...] than the same with ...math... Apparently that slightly different meaning is also rare in AmE. Apr 7, 2022 at 15:16

4 Answers 4


Revision is still the word used:-

  1. the act or process of revising
  2. (Social Science / Education) Brit the process of rereading a subject or notes on it, esp in preparation for an examination
  3. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a corrected or new version of a book, article, etc.

where revise is defined to be:-

  1. to amend or alter: to revise one's opinion.
  2. to alter something already written or printed, in order to make corrections, improve, or update: to revise a manuscript.
  3. British . to review (previously studied materials) in preparation for an examination.

The meaning of study for an examination is only one of the possible meanings.

Edit: Revised is also used in British English in the sense of study for exam (I revised my physics course yesterday).

Revisionist is slightly different:-


  1. an advocate of revision, especially of some political or religious doctrine.

  2. a reviser.

  3. any advocate of doctrines, theories, or practices that depart from established authority or doctrine


  1. of or pertaining to revisionists or revisionism.
  2. attempting to re-evaluate and restate the past based on newly acquired standards.

While it has the general meaning of reviser, I have never heard it used in the second noun sense, only the first and third. One could, I suppose, call someone studying for an exam a revisionist, particularly if they were studying very hard, but it would sound odd or jocular.

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    It's not clear how this responds to the OP's particular words of 'revisionist' and 'revised', that is, is the meaning of those two words the same in AmE and BrE? (since they are different for the similar word 'revision')
    – Mitch
    Jul 28, 2013 at 15:13
  • I don't think anyone on either side of the Atlantic would or could [validly] "call someone studying for an exam a revisionist". The full Oxford English Dictionary has about a dozen sub-definitions for "revisionist", but not one of them comes close to that sense. Apr 7, 2022 at 15:47

The simple answer, from all the above, is that we British use "revisionist" and "revised" precisely the same way as an American English speaker in the phrases “revisionist history” and “revised the terms of the agreement”. I do think in the final case ("revised his answer") we are more likely to say "rehearsed" or "reviewed" depending on what is meant, but would say "revised thoroughly for a physics test".


In the U.S. when we prepare for exams we study or are studying for them. Examples: 1. I need to study for my final exam. 2. Have you finished studying for your final exam?

As for "revised his answer," I have never heard anyone refer to it as "rehearsed" although possibly "reviewed" would apply. For example, you revise (change) your answer after you have reviewed (looked it over) it.

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    – livresque
    Dec 12, 2020 at 3:35

Upon reviewing the various responses here, I find it necessary to revise the record.

NO native AmE speaker ever uses “revise” to refer to the act of preparing for an examination. It isn’t “rare,” it is non-existent.

My first encounter with that usage came tonight while watching a “Father Brown” episode. I turned 70 last month.

  • 1
    The top answer here already says as much.
    – alphabet
    Nov 11, 2023 at 3:56
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  • The question specifically mentions British English and that's its only tag, too.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 11, 2023 at 10:24

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