Dietician or Dietitian?
Is it dietician with a C, dietitian with a T, or are both spellings accepted? In the US, as well as around the world, the profession has made it very clear that dietitian is spelled with a T.
History of the Dietitian Title
Through the years, nutrition professionals have had a variety of names. In the 1870s, graduates of cooking schools were often called “dietists.” In 1899, at the Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics, the term, “dietitian” was created. During this period, “dietist” and “dietician” were also used. In the 1920s, the term, “nutrition worker” was also sometimes used, and this eventually turned into “nutritionist.”
Deciding on the Spelling
In 1917, the American Dietetics Association (ADA), now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), was created. In 1930, at an annual meeting, the executive committee decided that the official spelling would be dietitian.
In 1967, the International Labour Office, confirmed the dietetic’s profession classification in the International Standard Classification of Occupations. Dietitian was spelled with a T, per the dietetics community’s request.
Spelling Controversy in Today’s World
If you ask a group of dietitians their biggest pet peeves, the spelling of dietitian is bound to come up. It is often a topic of conversation in Facebook groups and in-person meetups.
The topic is so popular, it has even become meme-worthy! There was a meme by Alysa Bajenaru RD, circulating in the dietitian community of Ryan Gosling letting everyone know, “Hey Girl, I would never spell dietitian with a ‘C’.” Several memes have followed since. T-shirts and mugs have been made with these memes and sayings, making the spelling controversy a part of the dietitian culture.
Professional Preference vs Dictionaries
While the profession has made it very clear that the preferred spelling is with a T, dictionaries sometimes still use the C spelling instead. This is because -ician is a common noun suffix used for specialists and practitioners. For example, physician, optician, technician, clinician, etc, all end in this suffix. The -itian suffix is irregular and unique to dietitians.
If you want to rile up or poke fun at an RD, spell dietitian with a C! Most dietitians are quick to correct the mistake, especially when it comes to publications and job postings. The preferred spelling has been clear for almost 100 years, so there is no reason to think otherwise.