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Speciality vs. Specialty: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
"Speciality" is a British variant, "specialty" is American, both mean a pursuit or product distinguished by its excellence.

Key Differences

Speciality and specialty both refer to an area of expertise or a particular product that stands out. The primary difference lies in regional usage. Speciality is more commonly used in British English, whereas specialty is the preferred term in American English. This distinction is similar to the differences between "favourite" and "favorite" or "colour" and "color," where the former is British, and the latter American.
In discussing the usage of speciality and specialty, it's not just about geography. Speciality often appears in medical or professional contexts, denoting a physician's or practitioner's expertise. On the other hand, specialty might be used more broadly, including the concept of special items on a menu or unique offerings in a store.
While speciality conveys a sense of distinction in a specific field, specialty can also imply a state of being special or unique. The nuanced difference between the two is largely overshadowed by their interchangeability in many contexts. Both words stem from the Latin "specialitas," yet have evolved separately in British and American English.
In literature and professional writings, speciality may be preferred for a traditional British audience. Specialty, however, has gained international traction and is recognized globally, especially in academic and professional settings outside of the United Kingdom. Each word carries the same weight of expertise and exclusivity, regardless of the regional preference.

Comparison Chart

Regional Usage

British English
American English

Common Contexts

Medical, professional expertise
Menu items, unique offerings


Less common internationally
Widely recognized globally


Contains an extra "i"
Shorter and more commonly used



Speciality and Specialty Definitions


A field or pursuit in which one excels.
Cooking is his speciality.


A distinctive service or product offered.
The bakery's specialty is its sourdough bread.


A distinctive attribute or aspect.
Accuracy is the speciality of this device.


A particular area of knowledge or expertise.
Her specialty is constitutional law.


A product for which a person or place is known.
Belgian chocolates are her speciality.


Something for which a person or place is renowned.
New Orleans is known for its culinary specialty, gumbo.


The state of being specialized.
Pediatric medicine is her speciality.


A particular branch of medicine or surgery.
He's studying to enter the specialty of neurology.


A feature or quality that distinguishes something.
This software's user-friendliness is its speciality.


An attribute or quality that distinguishes.
Customization is the specialty of this app.


A distinguishing mark or feature.


A special pursuit, occupation, aptitude, or skill
The professor's specialty was the study of ancient languages.


Specialities Special points of consideration; particulars.


Should I write "pediatric specialty" or "pediatric speciality"?

In the U.S., use "specialty"; in the U.K., "speciality".

Are speciality and specialty interchangeable?

Yes, but speciality is British, and specialty is American English.

Can I use specialty in British English?

Yes, it's understood but speciality is more common.

Is there a meaning difference between speciality and specialty?

No, both mean an area of expertise or a distinguished product.

Will using speciality in America confuse people?

Unlikely, as the meaning is clear from context.

Is speciality only related to professional expertise?

No, it can also refer to products or attributes.

Which version is used in scientific papers?

Specialty is more common in international publications.

Is speciality used in American English?

Less so, but it's not incorrect.

Is there a spelling preference for web content?

It depends on the target audience's regional English form.

Can speciality refer to a unique product?

Yes, especially in British English.

Which term should I use in academic writing?

Use specialty for an American audience; speciality for British.

Which is more common globally, speciality or specialty?

Specialty is more recognized globally.

Do dictionaries list both speciality and specialty?

Yes, dictionaries list both, often noting regional preferences.

Does the spelling change the pronunciation?

Slightly, but both are easily understood.

Are there any contexts where one cannot replace the other?

No, they can replace each other, respecting regional usage.

Do these words have different plural forms?

No, both form plurals as "specialties" in American English and "specialities" in British English.

Can a restaurant have a speciality?

Yes, it refers to a signature dish or product.

Do these words have the same etymological origin?

Yes, they both derive from the Latin "specialitas."

Is specialty or speciality preferred in Canadian English?

Canadian English often follows British preferences, so "speciality" is common.

Will using specialty in the UK be seen as incorrect?

Not incorrect, but less common.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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