It's the World Trade Organization (and not the World Trade Organisation).

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So in a document that otherwise uses British spelling (and hence organisation rather than organization), should I stick to spelling in full the WTO in its original American spelling? Or should I changed the z to an s?

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    it's a proper noun I'd keep it the way it's spelt.
    – P. O.
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 3:11
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    @P.O. is right. Use the rule that people (and organizations) should be referred to by the name they prefer. You wouldn't like it much if I wrote to you as "Qenny LJ" because we don't use K's over here. And I wouldn't blame you.
    – deadrat
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 4:39
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    @deadrat I had that happen, a colleague was learning Gaelic (we work in the Highlands and his course was work sponsored) started to address me as Anna rather than Anne when writing to me, because that's what it is in Gaelic. I had to think of a diplomatic way to respond that I was not a Gael and that in my cultural heritage 'Anne' and 'Anna' are different names and I quite liked the one my family had given me! He was fine about it, but I still think it was a bloody odd thing to do, (Especially as, like me, his surname was the name of a town in the North of England).
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 7:56
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    British English uses organization with a z as well. It's not just an American thing. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 7:34

3 Answers 3


It depends on what style guide you're using.

The Guardian and Observer style guide says:

American English
Follow US spellings for proper nouns, eg Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense, Labor Day, One World Trade Center, Ann Arbor, Pearl Harbor

(Which is ironic, since the Guardian itself clearly violates the guide. So they spell it World Health Organisation.)


I would like to add that the spelling of the World Trade Organization is not American but British. The organisation uses the preferred spelling listed in the Oxford Dictionary, and hence, British spelling in combination with the suffix -ize for over 200 verbs and related words (which is also an acceptable and correct variant in British English along with the more popular suffix -ise).

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 13:29
  • Good addition, but as the bot says it would be better with a link (for example the OED FAQ page - plug 'OED "-ize" spelling' into your preferred search engine). I (UK) could go for the Greek root for the verb and the Latin route for the noun, so while "the organization of an organisation" might look weird, it's justifiable based on etymology and [opinion] makes a nice distinction. English, eh? What can you do? WTO as shown in the question looks like US English to me. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 20:19

Reading between the lines I would say that the logo of the WHO has been designed by a professional graphic artist who may well be more familiar with American English. The American spelling (with a "z") has then been juxtaposed to the colorful logo as a matter of course. Evidently this has been overlooked or ignored by all those responsible for writing the text which is, for an international organisation like the WHO, quite an undertaking involving WHO policy makers, lawyers, wordsmiths and sub-editors. The British English of the text has to be read with the logo's American English spelling of organization with a "zee". This is not going to shake the foundations of the WHO or, for that matter, speakers of AE or BE. I think it is quite acceptable to use the acronym WHO for the main body of text and communications.

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    Even if you use the initialism in the body, you will have to spell it out at the first use, so the question is unchanged.
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 8:40

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