Is the proper spelling “judgment” or “judgement”?

I always thought the proper spelling was  judgment, but I see  judgement all the time, even in articles, news, etc. Merriam-Webster lists  judgement as a variant spelling for judgment.

But is the proper spelling  judgment? I feel like I’m in the minority on this.

Answer

I looked in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), and the British National Corpus (BNC), and found this data:

COCA:

1        JUDGMENT   15116
2        JUDGEMENT  584

Ratio in American usage: 25 to 1 in favor of judgment

BNC:

1        JUDGMENT   3220
2        JUDGEMENT  2441

Ratio in British usage: 1.3 to 1 in favor of judgment

So, it does appear that while judgment is more common in both British and American English, judgement enjoys a substantial percentage of usage in British English, but much less in American English.

Addendum: per ShreevatsaR’s suggestion, I searched the BNC again, this time excluding all the spoken sections (“S_*”) as well as the two written legal sections: “W_nonac_law”, “W_ac_law_edu”, and got these results

1        JUDGEMENT  2053
2        JUDGMENT   1317

We do now find the numbers inverted: the ratio of judgment to judgement is just 0.64. Although many of the examples remaining of judgment are in fact in a legal context anyway, we do find, though, that the spelling judgment nevertheless enjoys considerable usage in non-legal contexts. Here are a few examples:

  • “Efficiency at work is decreased and judgment impaired, with possible serious results.”
  • “There I had him as a charming, affectionate colleague of mature judgment.”
  • “It is not pleasant for a human being to pass judgment on another and say that he is evil through and through without any redeeming features”
  • Judgment of humorous writing is even more subjective than with any other kind.”

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : David Hoerster , Answer Author : nohat

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