Council or Counsel?

What Is the Difference between "Council" and "Counsel"?

homesitemapA-Z confused words council or counsel?
"Council" and "counsel" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms).
  • "Council" is a committee elected to lead or govern.
    • The council will review your application tomorrow. correct tick
  • "Counsel" is advice (usually legal advice).
    • Please sign here to record that you have chosen to ignore my counsel. correct tick
  • "To counsel" means to advise.
    • I am unable to counsel you until you agree the terms and conditions. correct tick
council or counsel?

More about "Council" and "Counsel"

Writers occasionally confuse the words "council" and "counsel." "Council" and "counsel" are homonyms (specifically homophones) because they sound identical. However, their meanings are quite different.


The noun "council" refers to an assembly of people who serve in an administrative capacity. For example, a committee elected to lead or govern could be described as a council (e.g., a church council, a town council, student council).

Example sentences with "council":
  • The emergency session was convened due to the failure of the United Nations Security Council to resolve the instability at the Suez Canal. correct tick
  • In December 1046, Holy Roman Emperor Henry III established a church council to reform the papacy. correct tick
  • She yelled: "It's not the council's job to sift through your bins for glass." correct tick
In the UK, the adjective "council" often refers to services run by the state. For example:
  • Why do people living in council housing estates pay council tax? correct tick
  • This is council parking not private parking. correct tick


The word "counsel" is most commonly a verb meaning "to give advice." It is also a noun meaning advice (usually legal assistance) or opinion. Counsel can also refer to a body of people set up to offer advice (usually legal advice), e.g., the Queen's Counsel, the General Counsel of the Army.

Example sentences with "counsel":
  • We are seeking staff who can counsel the homeless on where to attain social services. correct tick
  • (Here, "counsel" is a verb.)
  • The litigation team offers excellent counsel on a wide range of subjects. correct tick
  • (Here, "counsel" is a noun.)
  • After bereavement, who counsels the counsellor? correct tick
  • (Here, "counsels" is a verb.)

Councilors and Counselors

Councilors work in a council. For example:
councilors work for the council
City council sign in Aberdeen, Scotland

Counselors work in a counsel. For example:
councilors work for the council
Sign of the General Counsel of the Army (US Army)

Common Terms with "Council" and "Counsel"

Common terms with "council":
  • council members
  • council voters
  • council tax
  • council housing
  • council jobs
  • council area
Common terms with "counsel":
  • counselling courses
  • counsellor
  • counsel and care
  • counsel in court
  • to counsel opinion
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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