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Commonly Confused Words: Council vs. Counsel


What does each word mean?

A council is an administrative body that manages or advices people.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is council used in some example sentences:

  • I have to apply to the local council to get a parking permit.
  • The school council is elected by the students and is in charge of representing student issues in front of the faculty.
  • The Council of Elrond was called in Rivendell to decide what should be done with the One Ring.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word council.

The word counsel is usually used as a verb meaning ‘to give advice to’. The word can also be used as a noun meaning ‘legal adviser’ or ‘formally given advice’.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is counsel used in some example sentences:

  • The school employs career advisers to counsel students who are making decisions about their futures after graduation.
  • He is entitled to legal counsel when he attends his hearing at court.
  • They sought counsel when buying their house.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word counsel.

Where does each word come from?

Council dates back to the early twelfth century. It comes from the Latin ‘concilium’ meaning ‘a meeting, a gathering of people’ via the Old North French ‘concilie’ meaning ‘assembly; council meeting; body of counsellors’. ‘Conilium’ comes from the PIE root ‘kele’ meaning ‘to shout’.

Counsel also comes from the Latin ‘consilium’. It entered English in the late thirteenth century via the Old French ‘conseiller’ meaning ‘to advise, counsel’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Think of council and counsel as part of this group of words. Nouns are spelled with a ‘c’ in the middle and verbs are spelled with an ‘s’.
  • Use the words ‘city council’ to help you remember that council is spelled with the letters ci.

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary.



01 Nov 2016
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