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Empathise vs. Empathize — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 23, 2023
"Empathise" and "Empathize" both mean to understand and share the feelings of another, but "Empathise" is British spelling, while "Empathize" is American.
Empathise vs. Empathize — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Empathise and Empathize


Key Differences

"Empathise" and "Empathize" both refer to the capacity to place oneself in another's position and to feel their emotions. The distinction between these words lies not in their meaning but in their spelling and regional usage.
In British English, "Empathise" is the preferred spelling, conforming to the typical British practice of using "ise" endings. "Empathize", with its "ize" ending, is consistent with American English conventions.
Though "Empathise" and "Empathize" may be spelled differently, their meanings and applications remain consistent. They both address the human ability to connect with others emotionally and to perceive their feelings.
While someone in the UK might say, "I completely empathise with you," a person in the US would likely express the same sentiment using "empathize." Regardless of the variant used, the core sentiment remains unchanged.
It's essential to be aware of the spelling difference, especially when writing for specific audiences. If writing for a British audience, "Empathise" would be more appropriate, whereas "Empathize" would be suitable for American readers.

Comparison Chart


Ends in "ise".
Ends in "ize".

Regional Usage

British English.
American English.


Understand/share another's feelings.
Understand/share another's feelings.

Example Sentence

"I can empathise with your pain."
"I can empathize with your pain."

Typical Endings

Conforms to British "ise" endings.
Follows American "ize" endings.

Compare with Definitions


To relate to another's experiences emotionally.
She could empathise with his struggles.


To connect with and understand another's emotions.
She always takes the time to empathize with her friends.


To connect deeply with another's sentiments.
It's difficult to empathise without listening actively.


To share or recognize another person's feelings.
It's easier to empathize when you've had similar experiences.


To feel a shared understanding with someone's emotions.
I can empathise with how you're feeling right now.


To deeply understand another's emotional perspective.
Good therapists empathize with their clients' feelings.


To understand another's emotions intimately.
To empathise truly, one must set aside judgment.


To identify with and comprehend another's sentiments.
Even though they were foes, he could empathize with his adversary's pain.


To resonate with someone's emotional state.
Despite the distance, they could empathise with each other's situations.


To resonate emotionally with someone's experiences.
Sometimes, words aren't needed to empathize.


"Empathise" is the preferred spelling in British English.


To feel or experience empathy
Empathized with the striking miners.


(intransitive) to feel empathy for another person
Empathize with someone


Be understanding of;
You don't need to explain--I understand!

Common Curiosities

Which is the correct spelling: "Empathise" or "Empathize"?

Both are correct; "Empathise" is British, while "Empathize" is American.

Can Americans use "Empathise" in their writings?

While it's understood, "Empathize" is the conventional American spelling.

In international publications, which form should I use?

It depends on your target audience, but many international publications lean towards American English, using "Empathize".

Does Australia use "Empathise" or "Empathize"?

Australia typically follows British English, so "Empathise" is more common.

Is there a difference in meaning between "Empathise" and "Empathize"?

No, the meaning is the same; the difference lies in regional spelling preferences.

Are there other words that have "ise" and "ize" distinctions like "Empathise" and "Empathize"?

Yes, such as "realise" (British) vs. "realize" (American).

Why is it important to know both forms?

Knowing both ensures proper usage depending on the intended audience or region.

How did the difference in spelling originate?

The difference stems from British and American variations in word endings.

In academic writing in the US, which form is preferred?

In the US, "Empathize" is the preferred form.

Do Canadians use "Empathise" or "Empathize"?

Canadians generally follow the American spelling, "Empathize".

Is one form older than the other?

Both forms have historical usage, but regional preferences have evolved over time.

In spoken English, is there a difference in pronunciation?

Generally, no. Both are pronounced similarly.

Is there any difference in the way the words are used contextually?

No, the context remains the same; only the spelling varies.

Is "Empathy" the noun form for both "Empathise" and "Empathize"?

Yes, "Empathy" is the noun form in both British and American English.

Are there tools to automatically correct "Empathise" to "Empathize" for American audiences?

Yes, many word processing programs and online tools can adjust the spelling based on the desired form of English.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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