Is there a difference between the words "accounting" or "accountancy", when referring to the field or branch of study?

  • Could one or the other be said to be a subfield within the other?
  • Are there any abbreviated forms for both or either of these words used to refer to the field, e.g., similar to "biol." used for "biology"?

1 Answer 1


They are more or less interchangeable. Accounting has different meanings and in one sense refers to the process of keeping or maintaining financial records; while accountancy, according to OED, specifically refers to the duties(which consists of accounting, bookkeeping, auditing, etc.) or profession of an accountant.

When it comes to which is the child and which is the parent, accountancy seems to be the parent term in finance. Here is the definition from Wikipedia:

Accountancy is the process of communicating financial information about a business entity to users such as shareholders and managers.1 The communication is generally in the form of financial statements that show in money terms the economic resources under the control of management; the art lies in selecting the information that is relevant to the user and is reliable.[2] The principles of accountancy are applied to business entities in three divisions of practical art, named accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing.[3] The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) defines accountancy as "the art of recording, classifying, and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are, in part at least, of financial character, and interpreting the results thereof."[4]

That said, when referring to the field itself, I'll never use accountancy and will stick with accounting.

  • 1
    After 40 years in the profession I tend to think that the Wiki entry reflects UK usage. Americans are more inclined to use 'accounting' where we would say 'accountancy'. There are, of course, many other elements to accountancy than simply accounting, bookkeeping and auditing.There are taxation, corporate planning, cash forecasting, cost accounting, systems design, computing etc.
    – WS2
    Feb 5, 2014 at 9:13

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