Etymology
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-ize 

word-forming element used to make verbs, Middle English -isen, from Old French -iser/-izer, from Late Latin -izare, from Greek -izein, a verb-forming element denoting the doing of the noun or adjective to which it is attached.

The variation of -ize and -ise began in Old French and Middle English, perhaps aided by a few words (such as surprise, see below) where the ending is French or Latin, not Greek. With the classical revival, English partially reverted to the correct Greek -z- spelling from late 16c. But the 1694 edition of the authoritative French Academy dictionary standardized the spellings as -s-, which influenced English.

In Britain, despite the opposition to it (at least formerly) of OED, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Times of London, and Fowler, -ise remains dominant. Fowler thinks this is to avoid the difficulty of remembering the short list of common words not from Greek which must be spelled with an -s- (such as advertise, devise, surprise). American English has always favored -ize. The spelling variation involves about 200 English verbs.

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egotize (v.)
"talk overmuch of oneself," 1775, from ego + -ize.
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amortisation (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of amortization; see -ize.
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aggrandisement (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of aggrandizement; for suffix, see -ize.
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generalisation (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of generalization. For spelling, see -ize.
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privatisation (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of privatization. For spelling, see -ize.
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socialisation (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of socialization; for spelling, see -ize.
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urbanisation (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of urbanization. For spelling, see -ize.
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civilisation (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of civilization. Also see -ize.
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