Sulfur vs sulphur

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 23 Dec 2019

At Radiopaedia we have decided to use the spelling sulfur, rather than sulphur, for all instances where the chemical element is referred to.

Sulfur has been the preferred spelling of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) since 1990, and is the default form employed by many scientific journals 1. The alternative spelling sulphur may still be found in common use in the UK and Commonwealth, especially by laypeople. By extension all sulfur-derived words are also spelled using the 'f' form:

  • busulfan: chemotherapy agent
  • disulfite
  • polysulfane
  • sulfanilamide
  • sulfate
  • sulfide
  • sulfite
  • sulfonamide
  • sulfuric
  • sulfurous
  • sulfuryl

This orthographic preference is also supported by the etymology, as the Late Latin word for the element is also 'sulfur' 2.

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