Is it Brazil or Brasil? We help set the record straight.

As we enter the quarter finals of the 2014 World Cup, we are certain that by now most everyone has read an article (or ten) about the Brazil World Cup. Maybe you are closely watching the games and have noticed all the advertising boards around the pitch from the sponsors of the 2014 Brasil World Cup. And to those of us who are covering the event, and writing posts about the tournament the question always lingers, when we are about to spell the host city for the 2014 World Cup, do we write Brasil with an “s” or Brazil with a “z”?

The answer is always just one Google search away, but in the the good service of saving you a few keystrokes and a couple of minutes out of your busy day, we give you the answer below. So that the next time you write the word Brazil, or read the word Brasil, you understand why the letters ‘s’ and ‘z’ seem so interchangeable.

The short explanation is as such…in the English language, Brazil is properly spelled with a “z”, and in the Portuguese language it is spelled with an “s.”

The long explanation as to why, goes like this, (from the Uma Nota blog):

What exactly is the origin of this confusion of Brasil vs Brazil?

This was due to some historical confusion and a lack of accepted form. I remember finding a coin once in Belo Horizonte that dated from the 1870s and the wording was “Brazil.” How could this be? well after some digging I found some info on the about page of the Brasilia municipality:

The Brazilian Academy of Letters was founded only in 1897; until then, there was not any official institution in Brazil to issue norms on orthograhy (the Academy took over that function); besides, only a small fraction of Brazilian society had access to education.

As a consequence, as there was not an “official” or “correct” definition on how to spell it, some people used to write “Brazil”, while others used “Brasil.”

Below: The bill to the left dates back to 1917. Notice the inscription “Republica dos Estados Unidos” at the top, and the “do Brazil” right under it. However, this other bill to the right, printed in 1921, brings the inscription “Republica dos Estados Unidos do Brasil”. This confusion lasted until 1945, when Brazil and Portugal met and agreed on the first Orthographic Vocabulary of Portuguese Language; such vocabulary defined the form “Brasil.”

The Anglo world kept using Brazil with “z” because, , we suppose, that is what they were used to doing.


In summary, when writing in english use a “z”. When in Rio, lounging around on the beach, writing a post in Portuguese, use an “s”.


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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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