Dietitian vs. Dietician, Which One is the Appropriate Spelling?

Have you ever wondered how to properly spell “Dietitian”?  Is it spelled “Dietitian” or “Dietician?”

Is there any difference between those two words? How will Dietitians respond when they see the word “Dietician” in emails, articles, and social media platforms?

 

Dietitian vs. Dietician, Which One is the Appropriate Spelling?

To trail the origins of these two words we need to go back to the eighteen hundreds. 

Dietician” was the original spelling: In 1845, the word “Dietician” originally referred to a cookery school graduate or a physician who has a specific interest in diet (Brontegrooms, 2020)

The title “Dietitian” came later: In 1899, the year when the word “Dietitian” was coined to the definition “persons who specialize in the knowledge of food and can meet the demands of the medical profession for diet therapy” at the Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics. The official spelling of Dietitian with a “t” was accepted by the American Dietetic Association’s executive committee at its 13th annual meeting in 1930 (South,1993)

 

Today’s proper spelling and protected titles: 

Today the proper spelling is Dietitian, you will notice that spelling in the titles of professional bodies such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and The Dietitians of Canada. According to the Dietitians of Canada, in Canada, the term Dietitian is a protected title in all provinces. 

However, in today’s conventional use the words “Dietitian” and  “Dietician” both refer to a nutrition professional in newsletters and social media posts. With Microsoft Word’s Spell Check, the technique tends to auto-correct the word as “Dietician,” which makes writers confused. However, Grammarly gets it and accepts either spelling. One of the reasons for this problem is that the author assumes the term of nutrition professionals like physician and clinician and then messes up those two words (although with the Academy it is spelled with a ‘t’).

 

How do Dietitians feel when they see the word “Dietician”?

To find out Dietitians’ attitude toward this spelling, we sent a survey to Registered Dietitians across Canada. 

“To be honest, it used to bother me a little bit – but in the end, if someone misspells Dietitian with a “c” that is OK… to know the profession of a Dietitian is the main thing; the education, training and work it takes to become and stay an RD is what I hope others know.  It doesn’t matter how you spell it.”Sara Brunner, Registered Dietitian and owner of Soul Nutrition Consulting

“I just cringe every time I see it and then I let goAmanda Li, Registered Dietitian and the Owner of Wellness Simplified

Both Sara and Amanda think that the similar pronunciation of the word ends with “-tian” and “-cian” may be the reason for this misspelling.

“Annoyed. But I don’t really like either spelling, as they contain the word “diet.” A word most Dietitians hate! I would prefer the Nutritionist title, unfortunately, a Nutritionist doesn’t always mean you’re getting an RD!”Jennifer House, MSc, RD, and the owner of First Step Nutrition

“It’s like how you feel when you see an apostrophe in the wrong place. “Mask’s required.” Cringe. Annoying, but also no big deal. Don’t sweat the small stuff I say. The suffix “-cian” is often used to describe an occupation or skill: Optician, Statistician, Technician, Mathematician, Obstetrician.”Cheryl Strachan RD, MBA and the Founder of Sweet Spot Nutrition

“The English language has a lot of weird spellings (Bologna??) – sometimes you just have to take a breath and move on! Honestly, I spelt it with a C up until I was part way through my first year of the dietetics program and working part time for the Dean of the program – she kindly, but firmly, corrected me that it should always be with a T. So, I get it.”Rachel Hilts, Registered Dietitian and CEO at Rachel Hilts Nutrition Counselling 

“ I find that once people have either worked with a Dietitian or know a Dietitian they start spelling it with a T”Serena Benali, Registered Dietitian and the Owner of In Good Nutrition.

 

What Should You Do When You Observe the Typo “Dietician”?

In the publications and social media platforms, we can still find a lot of embarrassing misspellings of the title Registered Dietitian. Nonetheless, a responsible author should review all the spelling errors and inspect the terms to guarantee professionalism. And what’s more, don’t rely on auto-correct techniques too much

 

If all these fail, take a deep breath!

 

References

Brontegrooms. (2020). Dietitian consultant vs dietician consultant. Dietitian on Wheels – Traveling Dietitian Consultants. Retrieved from https://dietitianonwheels.com/dietitian-consultant-vs-dietician-consultant/. 

South, M. L. (1993). Reflections of a diamond: 75 years for ADA. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 93(8), 892-896.

 

About the Author: Sheryl Wang is a 4th-year food and nutrition student at the University of Prince Edward Island pursuing a career as a Registered Dietitian.

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