Bad Judgement

I remember many years ago when I was an articled clerk being chastised for misspelling the word 'judgment/judgement', when referring to the decision of a court. I don't recall which way I spelt it, but remember afterwards looking it up in a dictionary, which confirmed that either spelling could be used. Since then, I have merrily alternated the spelling, as the whim took me. Until recently, that is, when I came across the 'Judgments' page on the Judiciary of England and Wales website, where they state:

"you may think we can't spell, but when we refer to a court judgment we have deliberately missed an “e” out. It is not entirely clear why, it's just the way it is spelt!"

Right, that explains it then.


  1. John

    I tend to use my judgement when using judgment to refer to a decision of a court and when I give a judgment on whether I should have another glass of rioja to impair my judgement that is a matter of using one's judgement to draft the judgment.

    I think this is clear ?

  2. Crystal, as in the glass holding your rioja.

  3. Fantastic. It's just the way it is.
    We don't know why, or can't be bothered to find out? I guess it is no different than using the word jail/gaol ;-/

  4. While both spellings are acceptable, the big dictionary (which you can get at online with your library card number - nifty, eh?) prefers with an e.

  5. Do you want to argue with the entire judiciary? ;-)

  6. And how do you refer to the Acknowledgment of Service form then?
    By the way curiously my dictionary allows both spellings of judgment (and I'm a non-e person, but I blame my English teacher for that)but gives an additional definition for judgment as "the estimate by God of the ultimate wothiness or unworthiness of the individual or all mankind - as in Judgment Day which it also defines.
    Perhaps to keep the law secular, we should all be using judgement!

  7. Acknowledg... oh, whatever...

    Hmm... yes, in view of what you say perhaps I prefer 'judgement' after all...

  8. I confess I too had been an optional 'e' man: but the idiomatic distinction is frequent and I tend to adopt it to avoid the supercilious and incorrect language Nazis. Spineless or what?

    Fowler's Modern English says both are acceptable with the US preferring the 'e'-less version. It says:
    ..."The presence or absence of -e- is not a matter of correctness or the reverse, but just one of convention in various publishing houses."

  9. Yep, spineless. Just like me. ;-)

  10. I thought one wrote judgment in Cambridge but we in Oxford write judgement

  11. Ah, that explains it - Lord Phillips was educated at Cambridge!

  12. In my traineeship I was told that all lawyers, and only lawyers, spelt that word "judgment", and the spelling was a way of telling if someone was PLU.

  13. Interesting, although it seems that that is not always an accurate test...

  14. I've just written a 400-page book on family law (the Fathers 4 Justice Handbook) using the e-less spelling and now learn from Richard Ramsay that as an Oxford man I must put the e back in (which I confess was my instinct).

    I really shouldn't have trusted the Microsoft Word spell-checker.



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