This is something I think I've noticed, but maybe I've just been noticing odd word choices and putting it down to a shift in language use. Has anyone noticed a shift from people using verb-derived nouns ending in -nce, to their equivalents ending in -ncy? Seems to be an American English thing.

For example, I've just read a scientific paper from a Washington-based research group, in which they use the word "resiliency", rather than "resilience". I'm sure I've noticed other words like this from time to time, but can't think of any more examples.

  • 1
    Definitely noticed it, and have for years.
    – Jim Mack
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 16:14
  • If you put that word into a phrase, you can use Google Books NGram Viewer to look at historical usage—which will suggest something. (But you'd need to look at many different words and many different contexts to conclude anything meaningful.) Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 16:20
  • Good point, just looked at the ngram viewer and "resiliency" seems to be much more common in American English. However, there's also a general increase in the use of "resilience" across the board
    – Tim Foster
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 16:22
  • 1
    Due diligency, one should also look at the opposite trend. As it happens, all of the -nce words I checked had obsolete -ncy variants.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 22:18
  • 1
    ell.stackexchange.com/questions/41528/…; there are many words of this kind.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


As noteed by Jason: An interesting way to investigate changes over time is provided by Google Ngram.




in which they use the word "resiliency", rather than "resilience".

The -cy suffix had several functions depending upon the root word. The examples in question are perhaps clearer than most in their original meanings (Quotes from OED):

"resiliency" -> a tendency towards resilience

†1. Tendency to rebound or recoil. [...] Obsolete.

1651 tr. J. A. Comenius Nat. Philos. Reformed x. 189 Why those things that are to be seen must of necessity be enlightned? because sight is the resiliencie [L. resilientia] of the light from the object to the eye.

resilience - the attribute of being resilient.

I. Literal applications.

†1. The action or an act of rebounding or springing back; rebound, recoil. Obsolete.

1626 F. Bacon Sylua Syluarum §245 Whether there be any such Resilience in Eccho's

Despite the obsolescence, the "-cy" may reflect a tendency to be cautious about absolute claims, as the "-cy" version appears to have more of the abstract about it.

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