What is the difference between these two words:

  • accepter
  • acceptor

On Merriam-Webster, each word's definitions are linked to one another,

Definition of accepter

  1. one that accepts
  2. acceptor

Definition of acceptor

  1. accepter
  2. one that accepts an order or a bill of exchange
  3. an atom, molecule, or subatomic particle capable of receiving another entity (as an electron) especially to form a compound — compare donor

Do both words mean the exact same thing or are each used differently depending on the context they are in?

  • They seem like regional synonyms to me. Apr 1, 2016 at 22:00
  • 3
    There is an old "guideline" that's been used in the computer industry for at least 50 years that the "-er" words are for human actors and the "-or" words are for mechanisms. But I have no idea whether this is backed by any "ivory castle" academics or is just something produced by the chief documentation folks in IBM.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 1, 2016 at 22:09
  • @HotLicks That would explain why "acceptor" has the third definition
    – Tom
    Apr 1, 2016 at 22:10
  • 2
    @Tom, that's because actors are secretly mechanical...
    – Joe
    Apr 1, 2016 at 22:33
  • 1
    @Tom - Specifically, it explains why the thing attached to an old IBM 360 "channel" was a "selector". And, in my experience, it's been a useful guideline in other cases where there is some ambiguity.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 2, 2016 at 3:12

1 Answer 1


I just think that acceptor is an older form of accepter. Though there are roughly parallel entries for them in the OED. Acceptor is certainly still in current use, but modern people I suggest would be inclined to use the accepter spelling.

So far as such instruments as Bills of Exchange are concerned, both are in use.

2004 Racing Post 7 May 8/2 A full list of acceptors will be issued tomorrow after the extended deadline, but one name confirmed yesterday was the Godolphin filly Punctilious.

  • Collins says acceptor is more common than accepter; -or is in the top 30,000 words but -er is not.
    – Stuart F
    May 19, 2023 at 12:40

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