Spelling of disc

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Disk and disc are the two alternative spellings of the descriptive word for things of a generally thin and circular geometry. These variations are due to the way in which the words originated. Generally for disk storage as an electronic medium, disk refers to magnetic storage while disc refers to optical storage.


The earlier word is disk, which came into the English language in the middle of the 17th century, and (probably following pre-existing words such as risk) it was spelled with a k. In the 19th century, disk became the conventional spelling for audio recordings made on a flat plate, such as the gramophone record. Early BBC technicians differentiated between disks (in-house transcription records) and discs (the colloquial term for commercial gramophone records, or what the BBC dubbed CGRs).[1]

UK vs. US[edit]

By the 20th century, the k-spelling was more popular in America, while the c-spelling was preferred in the UK.[2] In the 1950s, when the American company IBM pioneered the first hard disk drive storage devices, the k-spelling was used. Consequently, in computer terminology today it is common for the k-spelling to refer mainly to magnetic storage devices[3] (particularly in British English, where the term disk is sometimes regarded as a contraction of diskette, a much later word and actually a diminutive of disk).


Some latter-day competitors to IBM prefer the c-spelling. In 1979, the Dutch company Philips, along with Sony, developed the compact disc medium; here, the c-spelling was chosen. The c-spelling is now used consistently for optical media such as the compact disc and similar technologies.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barry Taylor (2008-03-12). "Test Records". Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. "The earlier and better spelling is disk, but disc is now the more usual form in British English, except in sense 2g [computing], where disk is commoner as a result of US influence." 
  3. ^ "What's the difference between a "disc" and a "disk?"". Apple Inc. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  4. ^ Paul Brians. "Common Errors in English". Washington State University. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 

Further reading[edit]