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?

  • I was faced with the same dilemma when putting together my CV. I then noticed that the online database of translators housed on the website of The Chartered Institute of Linguists (of which I am a member) used another word altogether: 'specialisms' - and I eventually decided to go with that. Sep 7 '16 at 14:12

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.

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

  • 4
    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! Jun 30 '15 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.


There's a good explanation of the difference here.

In addition to the regional differences among English-speaking nations, it points out that 'specialty' is more commonly used as an adjective; 'speciality' as a noun.

As a native speaker of British English, this is the distinction I make.


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

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