I constantly hear people use the word "resiliency" (especially sports broadcasters and the like). I've always used "resilience" instead. Is there a preferred word to use in any given situation?

As far as I can gather they are exact synonyms.

  • 3
    The OED has 190 word-pairs of the same form as resilience/resiliency. Some of these sound weird, but many are normal. abstinence/abstinency, complacence/complacency, emergence/emergency, expedience/expediency, flatulence/flatulency, impotence/impotency, potence/potency, prurience/pruriency, refulgence/refulgency, sufficience/sufficiency, transcendence/transcendency, truculence/truculency, virulence/virulency, and many more.
    – tchrist
    Jan 8, 2013 at 11:34
  • @tchrist That's very interesting. Of those I almost always go for the former, with the exception of potency. complacence/complacency is an interesting pair because I actually use both of those words interchangeably.
    – Evan
    Jan 8, 2013 at 23:12
  • 2
    I have never heard emergency used to mean emergence.
    – John Y
    May 29, 2013 at 7:16

3 Answers 3


Resiliency is just a variant of resilience. Which one is used is a matter of style and personal preference. I would always use resilience because it's one syllable shorter than resiliency. Others may have different opinions. It doesn't matter because they are, as you suggest, exact synonyms, except for the pretentiousness of the longer word: resiliency. All verbosity is pretentious.

  • 1
    Don't you mean sesqipedalianism? ;-)
    – Jim
    Jan 8, 2013 at 5:59
  • @Jim: It's sesquipedalianism too, but this is one of those cases in which I think a judgmental rather than a merely descriptive term is appropriate.
    – user21497
    Jan 8, 2013 at 6:03
  • No, I meant you to say all sesquipedalianism is pretentious ;-)
    – Jim
    Jan 8, 2013 at 6:05
  • @Jim: That's too restrictive. Sesquipedalianism is just one form of verbosity. Perhaps, though, I'm stretching the definition of verbosity in this case. But if only speech is analyzed, then there is only a single stream of sound and verbosity is measured by length of time and not necessarily number of words. We do not disagree. :-)
    – user21497
    Jan 8, 2013 at 6:10
  • 1
    Sometimes my sense of humor fails to kick in. <(B=O
    – user21497
    Jan 8, 2013 at 6:16

Resilience is the more accepted form in the USA.

[I]n today’s English, resilience is far more common than resiliency, especially outside the U.S. and Canada. In North American publications, resilience appears about four times as often as resiliency. Outside North America, resiliency appears only rarely.

Though resilience is more common, resiliency is not incorrect. Both words are around five centuries old, and it wasn’t until the late 19th century that resilience prevailed by a significant margin. Still, there’s no reason not to use the shorter, more common form. - Grammarist


Resiliency has become very popular with sports broadcasters when describing the emotional grit of a team in competition. It is part of an alarming trend for former athletes to try to appear professorial in their post career work in television. It falls into the category of wearing unneeded glasses, never referring to a ball or a team without the full reference to the sport (football instead of just ball, football team instead of just team etc.). I wish all of that would die a quick death but it has incredible resilience.

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