Register office or registry office?

29 Nov

If you have anything whatsoever to do with yourself or anyone else getting married in the standard, official, council-run place, you will have been driven mad by the register office / registry office thing. Right? “It’s register office!”, you may or may not have bellowed, several times.

Well, when putting this post together, I, naturally, consulted the dictionary. And the dictionary backed me up in terms of register office: A register office, in the UK, is the place where births, marriages and deaths are recorded and civil marriage ceremonies are conducted. Phew.

However, it does allow that registry office is the “form which dominates” in informal use. Nooo! A registry is also the place where registers are kept, and it’s the noun formed from registration. So if you have a gift register, it will be kept in the gift registry.

But I’m sticking to the formal, official usage. An example, of course: “We’re getting married at the register office in April 2014. We won’t be placing a wedding list in any gift registry, as we have all that we need for the house, having been together for 12 years”.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

11 responses to “Register office or registry office?

  1. Jane Badger

    November 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Well, congratulations!


  2. Kate Millin

    November 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Congratulations – and thanks for letting us know . I hope this was a topical one.


    • Liz at Libro

      November 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      A bit cheeky, but felt more fun than just a bald statement and gets a language point across!


  3. Jill

    November 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Liz, (I’m a friend of Sian’s)
    I have always got this wrong (I now realise) and I was curious to see how common this was. I did a Google search for “Cockermouth Registry Office” (which is the only one I’ve ever been to) to see how often the incorrect form was used. Cumbria County Council’s site showed up in the search results but they call them Registration Offices – just to add to the confusion.


    • Liz at Libro

      November 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      Good research work – I salute you! It’s becoming the most common usage and I do believe in recording common usage and not being too prescriptive, but it does annoy me a bit when there is a precise term and it gets undermined! I can see they have the correct word in their URL there. So at least people can find them, and that’s the main thing!


  4. Jill

    November 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    It’s odd, isn’t it? Their url and their email address have the correct form but then they go on to call them Registration Offices. I smell a compromise. Somebody involved in the website knew the correct form but somebody else argued, “but everybody says…”.


    • Liz at Libro

      November 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      Yes, but then again it’s good Search Engine Optimisation to make people able to find your site. My top post on here, en route or on route, is found most frequently by people searching for “on route”!


  5. Genevieve

    December 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    First of all I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Appreciate it!


    • Liz at Libro

      December 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      I have long sessions of writing multiple blog posts in one go, which really helps. I’ve got lots of posts about blogging if you click on the resource guide or category cloud in the right-hand margin!



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